Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2011 - 8/31/2011

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Building A Public Judaism: Monumental Synagogues and Jewish Identity in Northern Europe

FAIN: FT-58657-11

Saskia Coenen Snyder
University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC 29208-0001)

This project takes a comparative approach to European Jewish history. By crossing the conceptual boundaries of history, architecture, and urban studies, it explores the dynamic relationship between synagogue building and Jewish identity in Amsterdam, London, Berlin, and Paris in the 19th century. Many communities initiated spectacular building projects at this time, consciously tying monumental synagogues to the new public face of Judaism. Indeed, synagogues took on a new central role in mediating Jewishness in a modern society. By examining the debates over style, location, size, spatial lay-out, reform, and etiquette--all of which were related to Jewish self-representation and acculturation in predominantly Christian societies--we gain a more nuanced view of how Jews saw themselves and how they wanted to be seen by their contemporaries. The built environment, and synagogues in particular, thus proves a useful lens through which to gauge the complexities of Jewish life at this time.