Since 2001, the Central Synagogue Archives Department has published four monographs focusing on a particular part of the congregation’s history and the New York Jewish community. These books contain pictures and insight from historians and important figures who have influenced Central Synagogue’s past and present.
This monograph explores the history of how our rabbis, including Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, and synagogue leaders engage our local, national, and international communities in seeking justice and social change through a Jewish lens.
The author, Dr. Jeffrey S. Gurock, is the Klaperman Professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University and a nationally recognized scholar and writer of New York Jewish history. His most recent book, Jews in Gotham: New York in a Changing City, won the Jewish Book Council’s “Jewish Book of the Year” prize in 2012.
"This monograph explores the development and tension between individual congregational liturgies and a denominational prayer book. We should be proud that rabbis of our congregation were instrumental in the evolution of an American Reform prayer book, which eventually became the Union Prayer Book, a precursor to the present Mishkan T’filah.” - Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein
The author, Rabbi Gary P. Zola, is Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. In 2011 he was appointed by President Obama to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.
"This outstanding monograph offers us unique insight into the history of Jewish liturgical music in America as it evolved to find its own voice in American society. At the heart of this history are generations of rabbis, cantors and their choirs and musicians who continually strived to enrich our worship and Jewish communal life. We are honored and proud to share their story with you.” - Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein
Author Judah M. Cohen is the Lou and Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture, Associate Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University.
In 1872 Central Synagogue moved from their small building on the Lower East Side to the grand structure on Lexington Avenue and East 55th Street – where it still stands today. What prompted this move? How was Central Synagogue influenced by its old and new surroundings? How did the synagogue relate and contribute to the development of the Midtown neighborhood? These questions are explored to their fullest in this monograph by architectural historian Andrew Dolkart.
Andrew S. Dolkart is an architectural historian who teaches at Columbia University and has written extensively about the architecture and development of New York City. He has also written walking tour guides to the Upper East Side, Harlem, and Lower Manhattan, published by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
This monograph, divided into two parts, explores ideas of social-group development and melding as well as identity-building of membership. It looks at ways in which "Central Synagogue's congregations folded the changing conditions of city life into their own history." And it examines the ways public ceremonies help create and sustain the bonds of religious fellowship. The book includes several pages of photographs that give visual context to these two engaging and informative essays.
Elizabeth Blackmar, author of Part I, is Professor of History at Columbia University.
Arthur A. Goren, author of Part II, is the Russell and Bettina Knapp Professor Emeritus of American Jewish History at Columbia University and Professor Emeritus at Hebrew University.
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