The American Synagogue: A Sanctuary Transformed

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Adapting to the shifting characteristics of the American Jewish population and the larger society of the United States, the synagogue has consistently served as American Jewry's vital forum for the exploration of the evolving ideological and social concerns of American Jews. From the Americanization of an immigrant congregation in Seattle to the growth of a synagogue center in Brooklyn, and from the agitation for religious reform in early nineteenth-century Charlestown to the introduction of American folk music in a Houston temple, the cases studied in this volume attest to the prominent role of the synagogue in shaping, as well as adapting to, social, cultural, and ideological trends. The book begins with an overview of the historical transformation and denominational differentiation of American synagogues. The essays in the second section offer in-depth analyses of the critical challenges to and changes in synagogue life through innovative studies of representative congregations. The problems of geographic relocation, the conflict between ethnic preservation and acculturation, the development of education in the synagogue, and the changing role of women in the congregation are all examined.