Wertheimer's is the first study to chart the course of American synagogue history from colonial times to the present. Fourteen commissioned essays written by prominent scholars of Jewish American history offer a penetrating examination of synagogue development. Through case studies of individual congregations across the country, the authors investigate a wide range of isssues, posing such questions as: What roles have been assigned to the synagogue in various eras in American history? How have the synagogues of the three major denominations--Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform--differed? How have immigrant congregations become Americanized? And by what processes have innovations in synagogue ritual been introduced? The resulting analyses illustrate the richness and diversity of the American synagogue and provide a valuable framework for further study of the significance of the congregation in American religious life.
"Jack Wertheimer has brought together a group of social historians who have helped demonstrate the centrality of the synagogue to the American Jewish experience, and who have given us a rich beginning for the exploration of synagogue history." Gerald Sorin, Journal of American History "...a major contribution to the history of American religion." Pamela S. Nadell, Journal of American Ethnic History "...The American Synagogue, A Sanctuary Transformed is an excellent collection of essays about American Jewry and its preeminent institution, the synagogue. What we find in this volume is not simply a "sanctuary" or even a single institution transformed, but rather, a variety of synagogues dynamically interacting with particular Jewish communities in America. The strength of this book is, in fact, the rich diversity it brings to the study of the synagogue--both historically and sociologically." Laura Levitt, Critical Review