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Saturday, November 20, 2010

American Synagogues Slideshow

I created a short slideshow of 59 assorted images taken from my cd-rom, American Synagogues: A Photographic Journey. The slideshow provides a nice sampling of the over 1400 synagogues featured on the cd-rom. You can also view it in full screen. If you would like to find out more about this cd-rom, order a copy of the cd-rom or learn of my plans for the second edition (expanded & revised) please visit my website: I will be starting the process of acquiring photographs for the second edition, so if you would like to take some photos of synagogues in your town or city, or if you are a member of a synagogue and would like to have images of your congregation in the book, please e-mail me at - As always I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Jewish West Virginia" my new book from Arcadia Publishing

For those of you interested in American Jewish history, local Jewish history and West Virginia history I am pleased to announce that my new book, "Jewish West Virginia" has been published by Arcadia Publishing and is now available for purchase. This book features 200 vintage and current photographs and images that help to tell the story of Jewish life and history in the "Mountain State" of West Virginia. Synagogues, old Jewish businesses, Jewish family photos and views of other Jewish related sites in the state are included along with detailed photo captions. This is the first book of its kind to touch on Jewish history in West Virginia from a popular culture viewpoint. Most of the images in the book have not been published before. Books are available from Arcadia and signed copies are available directly from me. Contact me at I will be working on another such book of images and history of West Virgina's Jews and Jewish Communities and welcome hearing from those of you who may have an interest in the topic and also who may have vintage photographs that could possibly be included in a future publication.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seattle's Temple de Hirsch Sinai

I'm visiting Seattle and had a chance to photograph the exterior of one of the largest and oldest Jewish congregations in Seattle. The in-town synagogue of Temple de Hirsch Sinai is located on Pike Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and is very close to downtown Seattle. The Alhadeff Sanctuary is, once again, a beautiful example of 'Mid Century Modern' design. It is rather simple in its design, but the large scale and height of the sanctuary give the building a rather massive and impressive feel. The look of the sanctuary evokes the feel of a modern domed worship space. Very clean and simple architectural lines make this a wonderful piece of modern architecture.

Seattle's Temple de Hirsch was established as a Reform congregation in 1899. Belleview's Temple Sinai was founded in 1961. The two congregations merged in 1971 forming the present congregation. It is the largest Reform congregation in the Pacific Northwest. The Alhadeff Sanctuary of the Seattle Campus on Pike Street was completed in 1960. Adjacent to the temple complex one will find portions of the facade of the old 1908 temple. The old temple was demolished in 1993 after unsuccessful attempts at re-use, but a portion of the facade was saved. The area of the old temple now serves as a small park along with the architectural remains.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Welcome Readers

Welcome to my blog. My blog is intended to be an informal look at the topic of American synagogue architecture and its associated congregational histories. The range of postings will cover both current and former synagogues as well as those that, unfortunately, have been demolished over the years. All sizes, locations, styles and time-periods will be touched upon. Though not formally trained in architecture I have studied synagogue architecture and history for many years and consider myself well-versed on the topic. I look forward to sharing images and history and welcome photos, information and suggestions/comments from readers.

The synagogue pictured in the blog heading is that of Shaarey Torah Synagogue in Canton, Ohio. It is a classic example of the 'Mid-Century Modern' style of architecture. The Conservative congregation was established in 1890 and their current synagogue was built in 1958. Their domed sanctuary was a typical design element of the period and gives the building a somewhat "Jetson Space-Age" feel. The synagogue of Congregation Ohav Zedek in nearby Youngstown, Ohio is of a similar design and was most likely designed by the same architecture firm. Shaarey Torah is one of three synagogues (Orthodox, Reform and Conservative) in Canton and is an active congregation. The previous building still stands and I will post photos of it as well as Temple Israel in Canton in a later posting. Canton's Jewish Community has declined in size over the years but still includes a Jewish Community Center, Jewish newspaper and several local Jewish organizations. There currently are plans to consolidate the JCC, Temple Israel and Shaarey Torah at a remodeled and greatly expanded Shaarey Torah location. The JCC and Temple Israel would be sold and each entity would have space at the new remodeled location creating a small Jewish Community Campus.