America’s Pioneer Jewish Congregations: Architecture, Community and History
When Jewish pioneers came to the United States in the 17th century, settling in present-day Rhode Island, one of their early projects after securing space for a cemetery was to build a house of worship. These early synagogues have been replaced over the centuries, and several of the contemporary structures, gorgeously shown in full color, grace the pages of America’s Pioneer Jewish Congregations.
As he traveled the country seeking the first congregations in each state, Julian Preisler included the US Virgin Island of St. Thomas, location of the second oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Photographs of past and present captivate before one turns to histories that reflect the customs of original homelands, revealing how mobility in the United States has enhanced rather than diminished traditions. The book is a testament to the author’s ability to integrate the history of Jewish presence as a worthy example of freedom of religion while also showing the remarkable variation in architecture.
Even the early synagogues defy the wariness of a past where Jewish presence was less welcome. The modern-day versions foster creativity, with both compact and larger traditional architecture and several vigorous, almost surrealistic, successors. The contemporary exteriors suggest worship could represent a challenge, but the interiors invariably display comforting, familiar features.
|Page Count||144 pages|
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