Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Conferences: All Sessions of Krakow Conference on Jewish Immovable Property Are Now Online

Krakow, Poland. Opening Session of the Conference on Jewish Immovable Property. Photo: Marla Raucher Osborne 2013

Conferences: All Sessions of Krakow Conference on Jewish Immovable Property Are Now Online

Last month month than 100 activists, Jewish leaders, scholars and historic preservationists from about 20 countries gathered in the historic Kazimierz District of Krakow, Poland to address long-standing problems affecting European Jewish Heritage sites, and to share news and methodologies of recent successes and solutions.

The three-day conference on Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage held in Krakow (April 23-25, 2013) was sponsored by several international organizations and foundations that have regularly supported Jewish heritage education, museum and preservation projects as well other Jewish community efforts.  The conference was organized under the aegis of the website Jewish-Heritage-Europe.eu, and hosted by the Jewish Community Center of Krakow.  More about the conference can be found at Jewish-Heritage-Europe.eu., where news and opinion generated from the conferecne are begin regularly posted and a long report written from the gathering was filed by Hagay HaCohen for Polish Radio’s Hebrew service.  You can read the English translation here.


There were so many fascinating presentation and so much stimulating discussion that it will take a long time to report on it all - but now you can feel as if you were there by watching full length videos of all of the conference sessions.  since there were overlapping sessions, the posting of the videos also allows participants to now see what they missed.

Videos from all three formal plenary sessions and all of the parallel seminar workshops at the conference  are now posted in the section of this web site dedicated to the conference.


Krakow, Poland. conference participants visit the Kupa Synagogue.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

I was honored to be invited to deliver the keynote talk to open the conference, and you can watch the talk here, or read the the full text.  It was a very moving moment for me, since the opening plenary was held in the Tempel Synagogue, the largest and first successful  synagogue restoration on which I worked (with many others) when I was director of the Jewish Heritage Council of the World Monuments Fund (WMF) back in the early 1990s.  I am pleased to say that all we hoped for and everything we predicted for the Tempel pretty mcuh came true - and the success of the work has actually been so great, that the building now needs - unfortunately - new structural work.  The concerts held at the Tempel (which also still serves for worship) have been sometimes too lively.  The 19th-century structure which was built for a Progressive congregation that valued "decorum" was conserved but not re-enforced, and the stress of the occasional stomping Klezmer and Jewish rock audiences have been to much for the building.  Tens of thousands of visitors have attended religious services and cultural events in the Temple since the first concerts were held there to kick off the restoration process more than twenty years ago. WMF was a co-sponsor of the Krakow conference and Sarah Sher, the new Jewish Heritage program officer for WMF attended and participated in the conference, as did WMF's technical director Mark Weber).  

Lesley Weiss, the new Chair of the U.S, Commission for the Preservation of  America's Heritage Abroad also attended.  You can read more about her appointment here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

USA: Boston's Former Blue Hill Avenue Synagogue

Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul, in its heyday as an active synagogue.  Postcard.
Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  Historical marker placed by The Bostonian Society.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.
After speaking in Cambridge, Massachusetts last week, I had the pleasure of spending a long afternoon touring parts of Boston's Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods, led by Dick Bauer, who has led walking and bike tours of Jewish Boston for many years.  We covered a lot of ground on foot and by car and were lucky to be invited in to visit many of the former synagogues that are now active churches.  

Some of these buildings, erected mostly in the first quarter of the 20th century, are grand and were built as celebrations of Jewish life in America.  Today they are all churches.  Others are quite humble - they were transformed from private houses into little shuls (shtieblach), and today serve small Christian congregations.  David Kaufman traced the history and architecture of many of these congregations in his important article "Temples in the American Athens: A History of the Synagogues of Boston," that first appeared in 1995 and was reprinted in J. D. Sarna, E. Smith, and S-M Kosofsky, eds., The Jews of Boston (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 175-218.

Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  Interior view to Ark wall. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.
Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul, View from women's gallery. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.

Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  remains of Ark wall, with Decalogue set before painted view of Mount Sinai. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.
On the grand side - the most intact of the synagogues is the former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul.  It was the first synagogue of the Roxbury Jewish community and today remains in good condition and serves the First Haitian Baptist Church of Boston.  This synagogue was founded by a group of real estate developers (according to Kaufman, known at the time as "real-estateniks") who were some of the wealthier members of the Baldwin Place Shul on the North End.  As is often the case, more well-to-do (and also more acculturated) congregants pioneer new Jewish neighborhoods and eventually induce their former congregation to move - or else found a new one. This same process would eventually lead to the Jewish near-abandonment of Roxbury in the 1960s.  

The building campaign for Adath Jeshurun began in 1904 and congregation macher David Krokyn set the architectural tone by engaging Fred Norcross as builder, and having his own son Jacob Krokyn, a 1905 Harvard School of Architecture graduate draw up plans.  Krokyn, who died in 1960, went on to become a leading Jewish architect in Boston, and designed several synagogues and community buildings (see David Kaufman, Shul With a Pool,  264 ff.). The big two-towered building was finished in time for Rosh Hoshana in 1906.  Kaufman quotes the account of the dedication in the Boston Advocate:
The edifice now dedicated is a splendid and imposing structure which will be for all time a monument to the self-sacrifice and religious fervor of this congregation.  It is of brick, with stone trimming, and cost more than $100,000.  It is finished in new oak and marble.  The seating capacity is estimated at 1200.  Besides the synagogue proper there are Sabbath school rooms and a large hall.  The building is heated by steam and lighted by electricity..."


Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  Former bimah and duhan (Ark platform).  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.
Outside, Krokyn employed a somewhat conservative design - the facade is emphasized by two tall flanking towers - a motif common for urban synagogues since the 1850s, and he employed a mostly Northern Italian type of Romanesque surface articulation, emphasizing the round-headed arch.  Kaufman suggests that he may have been referencing New York's recently completed Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue (George F. Pelham, 1903) on East 85th Street, where Rabbi Moses Zevulun Margolies (1851–1936), known as Ramaz, was been installed as rabbi, after leaving Boston.  Margolies had arrived in Boston in 1889 and served as chief rabbi for the city's Orthodox Jewish community, including the founders of the Adath Jeshurun.  That dating seems problematic, however, for this interpretation, since Ramaz did not go to New York until 1906, and Adath Jehusrun was surely designed before then.  As Kaufman also indicates, the Boston synagogue was also close in general style to many late 19th-century medieval-inspired round-arched (rundbogenstil) synagogues in Boston and elsewhere (several of which also have two facade towers) than the more Contemporary Kehilath Jeshurun with its more Renaissance look. 

Inside, however, the Blue hill Avenue synagogue would have been considered quite modern - by American Orthodox standards of the time.  The congregation was associated, as already noted, with the Ramaz - one of the founders of Modern Orthodoxy.   In 1906 the large impressive interior would have spoken to the congregation of a more modern, orderly form of worship.  Today, there is no central bimah, but presumably an historic photo will reveal that there was one.  But there is a large bimah-like platform attached in front of the Ark. Was this just the duhan for the priestly blessing, or were sermons delivered from here, too?  The pews are large and placed in orderly rows - unlike the sometimes more individualistic arrangements in small shuls and study houses.  I tried to imagine what the original configuration might have been - probably there was no central aisle, but rather two aisles leading to each side of the now dismantled bimah.  Stay tuned - and we'll try to figure out the original arrangement.

The formality of the sanctuary is emphasized by the impressive use of columns and classical capitals, and the large stately arches above the gallery.  Added to this are the modern mechanical features - good heating and electrical lights - not to be taken for granted at the time!  Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, later founder of Recontructionist Judaism, visited the synagogue in 1914 when his brother-in-law Phineas Israeli was rabbi.  Kaplan noticed a split between conservatives and progressives in the congregation, but especially praised Israeli's innovative "junior congregation" established for young people.

Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  The chandeliers - still in place - were electrified from the start..  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.
The congregation sold the synagogue building in 1967  to Ecclesia Apostolic and it was bought by the First Haitian Baptist Church in 1978. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1999.. Today, the inside of the synagogue is remarkable well preserved.  The present-day Haitian congregation has changed little to adapt the space for Christian worship.   Ark and bimah are intact partially, as are all the benches in the main sanctuary and the women's galleries.  Other original features including the wall radiators, the lighting fixtures, the ornate metal stair rails and the mosaic floors on the stair landings are all in good condition. 

Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  Stairway to the women's gallery.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013.
Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  Mosaic floor in stair landing.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013

Boston, MA. Former Adath Jeshurun, commonly known as the Blue Hill Avenue Shul,  Original radiator in sanctuary.  Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2013
For some related posts see:

USA: New Haven's Orchard Street Shul (1925)

USA: Buffalo, New York's Oldest Synagogue Building Threatened with Demolition

USA: Olean, NY Synagogue Added to National Register 

USA: Temple Beth Tefilloh in Brunswick, Georgia to Seek National Register Status


Friday, May 24, 2013

USA: New York City Landmarks Commission Designates the Bialystoker Home

New York, NY. Bialystoker Home. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber

USA: New York City Landmarks Commission Designates the Bialystoker Home

I am happy to report that on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 the new york City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate the Bialystoker Home on New York's Lower East Side as a protected landmark.   Although landmark status still needs approval from the City Council, activists on behalf of the building feel confident approval will be forthcoming shortly.

I've previously written about this fine example of "Jewish Art Deco."  You can read about it here.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Sam Gruber Lecture in Cambridge, Mass: American Synagogue Architecture

 Los Angeles, CA. Beth Chayim Chadashim. Photo S. Gruber (2012)
  
American Synagogue Architecture: Sam Gruber Lecture in Cambridge, MA Sunday, May 19th

I will be giving an illustrated talk in North Cambridge, Massachusetts this coming Sunday (May 19th) at 11 am, at  Kahal B'raira Congregation of Humanistic Judaism, 765 Concord Ave. Cambridge MA (tel. 617-969-4596).

 Brookline, MA. Young Israel of  Brookline. Photo S. Gruber (2010)

The talk will be broad overview of American synagogue architecture, covering all branches of American Judaism, and with special attention to modern synagogues and some of the most recent and most interesting synagogues erected in the U.S.  The talk is free and open to the public.

River Hills, Wisconsin. Congregation Emanu-El - B'ne Jeshurun. Photo: S. Gruber (2010)

USA: Connecticut Modern Synagogue Listed on National Register of Historic Places


Danielson, Connecticut.  Temple Beth Israel. Photo copyright Tod Bryant and Historical Perspectives, Inc. 2012

USA: Connecticut Modern Synagogue Listed on National Register of Historic Places
by Samuel D. Gruber / all photos courtesy of and copyright Tod Bryant and Historical Perspectives, Inc. 2012.

Temple Beth Israel in Danielson, Connecticut, a modern synagogue building erected in two stages in the 1950s and early 1960s, has been listed on the National Register of Historic places for its historical and architectural value. Research on the building was sponsored by the Temple Beth Israel preservation Society and carried out by Julie Abell Horn of Historical Perspectives who wrote the NR nomination.  You can read the full nomination report and see more pictures here.

 Danielson, Connecticut.  Temple Beth Israel. Photo copyright Tod Bryant and Historical Perspectives, Inc. 2012
  
The modest-sized (40' x 70') rectangular field stone and wood-faced synagogue was erected by a the combined community of 1920s Jewish settlers to the mostly farming community and a larger influx of Holocaust survivors who settled in the area after World War II.  Prior to the  war the town's Jewish community consisted of nine families, who had worshiped in private homes, but after the war the Jewish Agricultural Society helped resettle forty Jewish families, mostly Holocaust survivors, in the area.  Although they had limited resources, this larger community community decided to erect a purpose-built synagogue.  The history of the effort to raise funds and decide ritual and design issues is narrated on the Temple website and in the NR designation report.  

The lower portion was completed in 1951 after designs by architect William Riseman (1911-1982).  Riseman studied at Yale, but was influenced by the new modernism taught especially at the Harvard Graduate school of Design led by Walter Gropius.  The upper section and interior were completed by Maurice N. Finegold (b. 1932) in 1961.  This was the first religious project for Finegold, who has gone on to be a prolific and significant design of synagogues and churches. 


 Danielson, Connecticut.  Temple Beth Israel. Photo copyright Tod Bryant and Historical Perspectives, Inc. 2012

Except for a large Magen David used as window tracery over the main entrance, there is no overt indication that this is either a specifically Jewish building, or even one designed for religious use.  Nestled into a small hillside and set onto a landscaped lot in a residential neighborhood the stone faced building looks new, but pays homage to the older local vernacular tradition of farmhouses, storehouses and barns that dot the Connecticut countryside.  One thinks, for instance of the 17th-century Henry Whitfield House in Guilford, not far from New Haven.  It also probably reflects awareness of the recent houses designed and built by Harvard's Marcel Breuer.  The synagogue is thus interesting mix of vernacular traditionalism and up-to-date modernism.



 
 Danielson, Connecticut.  Temple Beth Israel. Vestibule plaques. Photo copyright Tod Bryant and Historical Perspectives, Inc. 2012

According to Julie Abell Horn, Temple Beth Israel was importantly an early instance of the congregation wanting to explicitly commemorate the suffering and lose of the Holocaust - felt so immediately by the survivor population - and yet the congregation was unable to agree on a strong artistic or architectural commemoration element for the building.  In the end, the vestibule before the sanctuary was designated a memorial area and remembrance plaques were included, but these are hardly specific about the Holocaust, and the entire lack of a strong commemorative statement is very much in line with America's overall inability in the 1950s to publicly accept and forcefully discuss - let alone represent - the horrors of the Holocaust.  It is a telling coincidence that the sanctuary was designed in the same year as the Eichmann trial in Israel, a pivotal moment when Israel, America (and other countries) focused on Nazi crimes and Jewish suffering.  

Of course, in the case of Temple Beth Israel as opposed to many more typical post-war suburban synagogue communities, it was the congregation itself that was the memorial body, since the dozens of survivors would always remember their perished loved ones and home communities, for whom they would regularly recite Kaddish.  In a sense, the entire synagogue is both a monument of memory and also a strong affirmation of Jewish survival.   We know in a least one other case of a survivor built synagogue, that of Beth Hebrew in Phoenix, Arizona, that the congregation preferred a simple modern structure rather than any type of building that resonated with historical associations.  The newness of design and construction could, it seems, be a soothing environment for both reflection - but also renewal. 

Both architects - Riseman and later Finegold - were Jewish, but raised and educated in America.  it is unknown how much of much they were able to understand, absorb and reflect of the congregation's Holocaust  history.   Riseman's mother Mary was, however, a member of the congregation (the family were poultry farmers), so there was a close bond between client and architect.  Riseman had graduated from Yale as a painter in 1933 and then worked as an interior designer, creating in 1936 William Riseman Associates which expanded in the 1940s into theater renovation work.  According to Julie Horn he "was moved by the plight of the congregation's Holocaust survivors and wanted to make a contribution on their behalf. took an interest in the project and agreed to donate his services to design the building, and his mother Mary offered free field stone form the quarry on the family farm in Brooklyn [Conn.] to be used in the construction." (How different from Nazi-sympathizer Philip Johnson's self-serving donation of design services to Congregation Kneses Tifereth Israel in Port Chester, NY around the same time).


Danielson, Conn.  Temple Beth Israel. Sanctuary. Photo copyright Tod Bryant and Historical Perspectives, Inc. 2012

The Beth Israel sanctuary was begun by Riseman and the shell of the space was completed in 1955. Riseman then recommended synagogue architect Isador Richmond to complete it, and Richmond then referred the congregation to his son-in-law Maurice N. Finegold  who was jut receiving his architecture degree form Harvard and was looking for work.   Finegold's project is a simple almost rustic space.  The open-raftered ceiling with exposed beams and the wood paneling reminds me of the simple wooden synagogues of the Catskills and Adirondacks (such as in Tupper Lake), built for an earlier generation if immigrants.  One thinks, too, of all those large similarly open - though less substantial - recreation and dining halls at Jewish (and other) summer camps.  Perhaps too, there is a faint influence of the Polish wooden synagogues which became well-known in America after the 1959 publication of the English edition of Wooden Synagogues by Kazimierz and Maria Piechotka.  I've previously written about the influence of this book in my essay on Polish Influence on American Synagogue Architecture.

It is good to see modern synagogues gettign recognition, and to learn when congregations take the initiative to document their history and protect and preserve their design and even better to see synagogues still in use by the congregations for which they were built.  

Mazel Tov to Temple Beth Israel and their National Register designation!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

New Publication: ARS JUDAICA, Volume 9

New Publication: ARS JUDAICA, Volume 9

The newest volume of Ars Judaica is now available.  Here is the table of contents and information on ordering.  If your University Library does not subscribe - it should!


ARS JUDAICA, Volume 9
The Bar-Ilan Journal of Jewish Art
The Michael J. Floersheim Memorial for Jewish Art
Edited by Bracha Yaniv, Mirjam Rajner, and Ilia Rodov

Editor's Note
BRACHA YANIV

Decoration versus Simplicity: Pottery and Ethnic Negotiation in Early Israel
AVRAHAM FAUST

Holding an Orb in His Hand: The Angel 'Anafi'el and a Late Antiquity Helios
Mosaic
MOSHE IDEL

Attributing of Three Ashkenazi Bibles with Micrographic Images
RAHEL FRONDA

A Purim Masquerade: Fowls and Foxes in Shmuel Ben David's Illuminated
Scroll of Esther (c. 1923)
ALEC MISHORY

Toward the Philosophy of Work: The Late Paintings of Leopold Gottlieb
ARTUR TANIKOWSKI

Special Item

Opposites United: The Square-Round Silver Wedding Ring
NURIT SIRKIS BANK

Book Reviews

The New Jewish Book History
Sarit Shalev-Eyni, Jews among Christians: Hebrew Book Illumination from
Lake Constance
DAVID STERN

Monuments of an Exotic Community
Remnant Stones: The Jewish Cemeteries and Synagogues of Suriname: Epitaphs,
eds. Aviva Ben-Ur and Rachel Frankel
Remnant Stones: The Jewish Cemeteries and Synagogues of Suriname: Essays,
eds. Aviva Ben-Ur and Rachel Frankel
DAVID MALKIEL

Comprehensive View of Hungarian Synagogues
Rudolf Klein, Zsinagógák Magyarországon 1782-1918: Fejlo˝déstörténet,
tipológia és epítészeti jelentöség / Synagogues in Hungary 1782-1918:
Genealogy, Typology and Architectural Significance
CAROL HERSELLE KRINSKY

Research of Research of Jewish Art: Focusing on Lithuania
ILIA RODOV

Research of Jewish Art: Art in the Ukrainian Context
ILIA RODOV

Jewish Art in Modern Times: A New Appraisal
Samantha Baskind and Larry Silver, Jewish Art: A Modern History
WALTER CAHN


Ars Judaica is an annual publication of the Department of Jewish Art at
Bar-Ilan University. It showcases the Jewish contribution to the visual
arts and architecture from antiquity to the present from a variety of
perspectives, including history, iconography, semiotics, psychology,
sociology, and folklore. As such it is a valuable resource for art
historians, collectors, curators, and all those interested in the visual
arts.

Volumes of Ars Judaica are distributed by the Littman Library of Jewish
Civilization throughout the world, except Israel.
http://www.littman.co.uk/cat/arsjudaica-9.html


Orders and inquiries from Israeli customers should be directed to:

Ars Judaica
Department of Jewish Art
Bar-Ilan University
Ramat-Gan 52900

telephone 03 5317217
email ajudaica@biu.ac.il

Friday, May 3, 2013

USA: Tours of Jewish Washington, DC and Arlington National Cemetery


Washington, DC. Former Cong. Ohev Sholom. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2007

USA: Tours of Jewish Washington, DC and Arlington National Cemetery

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington offer two tours to discover Jewish DC. om May 5th and May 19th.

Jewish Sites in Arlington National Cemetery
Sunday, May 5
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

Only a few spots left!
Advance registration and payment required before Friday at 5 p.m. for this tour; no walk-up registrations will be accepted.

Tour sites related to Jewish history and military heroes, including the Confederate Memorial by Sir Moses Ezekiel (pictured) and the new Jewish Chaplains Memorial. Led by JHSGW volunteers Les Bergen, Paul Frommer, and Ernie Marcus.


Arlington National Cemetery. Confederate Monument, dtl.  Moses Ezekial, sculptor. Photo:courtesy ISJM.
  
Distance: 1.5 miles (includes uphill)  

  
Meet at the Visitors Center at the entrance facing the parking area. Directions  

  
$15/JHSGW members; $20/non-members 
RSVP online (preferred), or call (202) 789-0900. All major credit cards are accepted. 
 


Downtown Jewish Washington 
Sunday, May 19
1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. 

Learn what Jewish life and worship was like in the historic Seventh Street, NW, neighborhood from 1850 to 1950. Includes four former synagogues. 
  
Start: Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum
701 Third Street, NW (at G Street), Washington, D.C.
  
End: former home of Washington Hebrew Congregation, 816 Eighth Street, NW (between H and I Streets), Washington, D.C.

 Washington, DC. Former Washington Hebrew Cong., 2nd bldg. 816 8th St (1898) Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2001

In partnership with the Foundation for Jewish StudiesJewish Study Center, and the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

$15/JHSGW members; $20/non-members

RSVP online (preferred), or (202) 789-0900. All major credit cards are accepted.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

USA: New York Synagogues Participate in Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Open House May 18th -19th

Syracuse, NY. Temple Concord. Arnold Brunner and Alfred Taylor, architect (1910-11). Photo: Samuel D. Gruber (2005)

USA:  New York Synagogues Participate in Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Open House May 18th -19th
by Samuel D. Gruber
(ISJM) As part of National Historic Preservation Month, five New York State synagogues will join approximately 75 other houses of worship participating in the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Open House. Participating sites will open their doors to neighbors and introduce visitors to remarkable art and architecture, giving congregations the opportunity to discuss their history, cultural events and social service programs that benefit the wider community. 

Upstate, Temple Concord in Syracuse and Temple Concord in Binghamton will be open to the public on Sunday, May 19, 2013.  In NYC, two historic “tenement shuls” – the Stanton Street Synagogue and the Kehila Kedosha Janina on the Lower East Side will be open, as will the Old Broadway Synagogue in Upper Manhattan. 

Syracuse’s Temple Concord, of which I have written in the past, located in its second building dedicated in 1911 and designed by Arnold Brunner and Alfred Taylor, was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 2009.  The historic classical style building will also be open Sunday afternoon to host the annual historic Preservation awards ceremony of the Preservation Association of Central New York.

 You can read much more about this building and its cultrual and architectural context in my article in Jewish History (2011)  available here.

Binghamton, NY. Temple Concord (1964). Stained glass by Jean-Jacques Duval.  Photo courtesy Julian Preisler.

By contrast, Temple Concord in Binghamton, is a mix of old and new.  The synagogue consists of the National Register listed Jonas M. Kilmer House, an impressive mansion built in 1898, to which a modern sanctuary, built in 1964 and decorated with splendid stained glass windows by Jean-Jacques Duval, is attached. 

In New York City, two only three surviving "tenement" synagogues will also be open.  They also happen to be tow of my very favorite small congregations.   Kehila Kedosha Janina (KKJ), on Broome Street, is home synagogue of America's Greek Romaniote community will keep its usual Sunday opening hours.  The small synagogue has been meticulously restored, though you cannot tell since every original aspect was left intact.  It also houses a small but very informative museum about the history and fate of Greek Jewry. 
   
New York, NY. Kehila Kedosha Janina. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2005

The Stanton Street Shul remains a small but active congregation that is now embarking on a much needed restoration program for the building.  Their approach is entirely different from the Meseritz Congregation on East 6th Street - which will soon sacrifice its historic interior in order in order to develop the site for income (read more and see pictures here).  This decision, just recently announced, is a great lose to New York Jewish history, and makes the task of saving the Stanton Street Shul all the more important.  

New York, NY. Stanton Street Shul, in need of restoration. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2012 
 
Left: New York, NY. Stanton Street Shul. View to bimah and aron-ha-kodesh. Photo:Samuel D. Gruber 2012

According to the Stanton Street Shul  website, "[The Shul] is a historic, intimate, and vibrant Orthodox congregation serving the diverse Jewish population in Lower Manhattan. We attract and welcome Jews of all religious, educational, and cultural backgrounds from the Lower East Side, Alphabet City, East and West Villages, Stuyvesant Town, and Tribeca."  Some sense of the congregation's history and dynamic can be gleaned from the congregational memoir (more of a personal ethnographic meditation) by anthropologist and congregant Jonathan Boyarin, Mornings at the Stanton Street Shul: A Summer on the Lower East Side I recently visited Stanton Street and will soon post a longer report on the synagogue, its decorations and its urgent preservation needs.

The Old Broadway Shul in Manhattanville carries some of the flavor of the lower East Side uptown.  Founded as the  Orthodox Shul Chevra Talmud Torah Anshei Marovi, Inc in 1911.  in 1923,the congregation built its sanctuary at 15 Old Broadway - incorporating an old house on the site.  The synagogue has remained open for prayer since then.  You can read more about the history of the congregation and building here.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy's Sacred Sites

Since 1986 The New York Landmarks Conservancy's Sacred Sites program has supported more than 675 religious institutions throughout the state which have received over $7.3 million in matching grants, and mobilized more than $540 million in restoration and repair projects.  Sacred Sites is the country's oldest and largest statewide grant program to help landmark religious properties providing financial and technical assistance to help save historic religious properties. 

For additional information on the Sacred Sites Open House Weekend, contact Ann Friedman, Director, Sacred Sites at the New York Landmarks Conservancy at 212/995-5260 or visit http://tinyurl.com/SSOpenHouse. 

Participating Synagogues:

910 Madison St. Syracuse, NY 13210  
Open Sunday May 19, 2013  9:00AM-12:00PM

9 Riverside Drive, Binghamton, NY 13905 
Open Sunday May 19, 2013

 

Stanton Street Shul
Jewish Open Orthodox (all welcome)
180 Stanton Street NY, NY  10009
Saturday May 18, 2013
9:30 am-1:00 pm; 7-8 pm


280 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002
Open  Sunday May 19, 2013 11-4

15 Old Broadway, New York, NY 10027
Open: Sunday May 19, 2013  10:30am to 12:30pm

According to the Landmarks Conservancy the weekend has three objectives:

• To encourage sacred sites to open their doors to the general public. Inviting visitors is a great way to build broad community support for the ongoing preservation of historic institutions.

• To inspire residents to be tourists in their own town, introducing non-members to the history, art and architecture embodied in sacred places. New Yorkers tour religious sites around the world but may overlook those in their own back yard. Developing cultural tourism is key to the future of sacred sites.

• To publicize the many programs and services religious institutions offer their neighbors. The important work these sites provide benefits the entire community – not just the congregation’s members- and help ensure the congregation’s future.to help landmark religious properties.