Library Exhibition: A Sacred Space: Synagogue Architecture and Identity

October 26, 2023–March 7, 2024

The JTS Library exhibit, “A Sacred Space: Synagogue Architecture and Identity,” offers an exciting opportunity to view a large selection of rare prints depicting historic synagogues. The exhibit, co-curated by Samuel D. Gruber and Sharon Liberman Mintz, will trace the history of European synagogue styles from the 17th to the 19th century, exploring how the image of the synagogue was used by Christians and Jews to present often conflicting ideas of Jewish identity. The 42 prints on view—selected from books, art prints, magazines, and newspapers—showcase a wide range of synagogue types. Notably, the pace of production of these images accelerated in the 19th century, when we first encounter Jewish architects of synagogues, along with the Jewish artists who depicted them.

The exhibit will feature images of synagogues from the Netherlands, England, France, Austria, and Germany, ending on American shores. Images of the latter will allow us to consider how this pictorial tradition would evolve in a country of immigrants that boasted of religious freedom and cultural pluralism.

Watch Riva Arnold, Research Associate of Judaica at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and professor in the Art History department at the School of Visual Arts, speak about this exhibit. This lecture was given to the Harry G. Friedman Society, a Judaica collectors group.