Past Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship recipient Saskia Coenen Snyder has a new book coming out on Harvard University Press: Building a Public Judaism: Synagogues and Jewish Identity in Nineteenth-Century Europe.
The gist: in the 1800s, a lot of Jewish communities in western and central Europe built beautiful new synagogues. They built self-consciously and deliberately, and these synagogues were designed to represent the communities to their non-Jewish neighbors (to be the community’s public face). As a result, when we study these synagogues, we learn what the communities thought of themselves and what they wanted others to think of them.
This is what we’re talking about (read on for more pics and offical description):
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