Tuesday, August 4, 2009

USA: Museum at Eldridge Street On-Line Publications

USA: Museum at Eldridge Street On-Line Publications
by Samuel D. Gruber

New York City's Museum at Eldridge Street has posted some worthwhile publications on-line.

The Academic Angles 2007-08 lecture series sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities is now online in the form of a complete booklet, and as individual essays. In addition, audio files of some of the lectures are also posted.

Eight lectures look at the history and restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue from different "academic angles." Marilyn Chiat and I both contributed essays focused on historic preservation. My written topic is The Choices we Make: Eldridge Street Synagogue and Historic Preservation. My somewhat longer talk (those who know me know how long my talks can be!) - in audio form - also deals with the architectural history of the American synagogue, especially in New York City (for the record, I have not gone back to listen to what exactly I said when I went off-script). Marilyn Chiat's essay, which draws especially on her experiences preserving historic synagogues and other religious sites in the Minnesota and the Midwest is Saving and Praising the Past. Other contributors are historians Deborah Dash Moore, Jeffrey Gurock, Jeffrey Shandler, Tony Michaels, Riv-Ellen Prell and Daniel Soyer.

Historian Annie Polland, who helped organize these lectures and is the author of her own history of Eldridge, Landmark of the Spirit, has left the Museum to take up a similar role at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Annie's presence there is a good omen of what we can expect to be a growing and continuing cooperation between the two important Lower East Side cultural institutions. I wish Annie well in her new position and look forward to reporting on her programs.

The Museum at Eldridge has also posted its 2008 Annual Report on-line. This is a tremendous resource for any historic synagogue organization as it provides so many examples of creative and effective programming, and when read carefully, can also serve as a primer in fund-raising.

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