IMAGE: AMY OULETTE
The synagogue, just off the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway in Southwest Portland, claims to have the world's largest Ten Commandments display.
At 33 feet tall, the two giant slate tablets can be seen from Southwest Dosch Road, where the street intersects with the synagogue at 1900 SW Peaceful Lane.
The tablets-with text in Hebrew and letters about 3 feet tall-were erected in the early 1960s with the building. Neveh Shalom's senior rabbi, Daniel Isaak, says no one has ever disputed the "world's largest'' claim, though he acknowledges no documentation exists.
"There used to be an approach to the Portland Airport and pilots would call in to give their location by saying 'I can see the Ten Commandments,'" Isaak says.
The American Civil Liberties Union and religion professors in Portland don't know of any Ten Commandments on public property in the city. And don't count Isaak on the side of those who favor the display in courthouses or statehouses.
"These church-state issues are so painful, and we're getting more and more of them," Isaak says. "The pressure to break down that wall of separation comes from all directions, [but] in the Jewish community we are very anxious to protect that wall because we see it as a protection of our own freedom and liberty."