The American Synagogue

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The institution of the American synagogue has played a significant role in the history of American Judaism, which remains an incomplete history if it is limited to the lives of individuals and events. This work helps complete the history as it is the first reference book to document the historical development of many individual synagogues in the United States and Canada. It includes over 350 entries of synagogues from among the four main movements, each of which have made an impact on the Jewish community, either locally or beyond. It is an essential tool for researchers, scholars, and students, as well as anyone interested in the historical aspects of American Judaism.

An essay on the historical development of the American Synagogue by Frances Weinman Schwartz, introduces the volume. Entries are arranged alphabetically by city within each state. Synagogue descriptions include the date of the congregation's founding, the reason for its founding and its congregational mission, the history of buildings and neighborhood, its local or national historical impact, its significance in the movement to which it belongs, major episodes in the congregation's history, as well as details about the service of its rabbis. A brief bibliography follows each entry, and a general bibliography and index complete the volume.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Olitzky, a prominent educator associated with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, has compiled a dictionary describing over 350 synagogues in the United States and Canada. Entries are arranged alphabetically by state and city and include a brief history of the congregation, founding date, religious orientation (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist), mission statement, local or national impact, building history, and data on important rabbis. Bibliographies indicates where additional information may be obtained. This work is highly selective and covers only 350-plus of the several thousand congregations in the United States alone. It also seems heavily weighted toward congregations of the Reform movement. There are some peculiar omissions, notably Cleveland's B'nai Jeshurun (The Temple on the Heights) and Park Synagogue (Anshe Emet Beth Tefilo), two of the largest and most influential Conservative congregations in the country. Despite these flaws, the dictionary is a step in the right direction because there is a paucity of material in this area. Very limited duplication is suggested. Recommended primarily for Jewish research libraries and very large Judaica collections.Robert A. Silver, formerly with Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio
A sourcebook of synagogues in North America, describing the histories of synagogues from the four major movements of Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform Judaism, as well as synagogues that are independent or part of smaller movements. Entries on temples listed by state are about a page in length, outline the foundation, development, and various locations of the synagogues, and list rabbis of the past generation and their birth and death dates. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313288562
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/18/1996
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

KERRY M. OLITZKY is Director of the School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, where he also directs the Graduate Studies program.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: "No Person Shall Be Called to Seipher in Boots": The History of the Synagogue in America by Frances Weinman Schwartz

The Dictionary

United States



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