Lecture 3. Synagogues located in the Americas

When examining the significance of synagogues in the Americas, it is of crucial importance to note that the timeline examined is drastically reduced compared to the aforementioned lectures. With that point in mind, the selection of the case studies below certainly provides much contextual information regarding the spread of Judaism, and the hubs of its observance in the Western Hemisphere. While half of the case studies presented here will come from the 20th century or later, earlier examples such as the “Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue” indicate the seedlings of how American Judaism would develop. In the United States, particularly, which was founded on the principles of religious freedom, large metropolitan areas such as New York dictate the importance for Jewish populations to be able to observe in correspondingly large numbers. Furthermore, in smaller cities, relatively sizeable amounts of Jews will show up in cities such as Philadelphia, where many congregations will appear even out into the suburbs. This trend coincides with a generalized mid 20th century movement of people, and the synagogue form will follow and evolve. In addition to the United States examples, other important synagogues will be researched which will display a proud dedication to religion in areas of Canada. In addition, an example from Brazil, whose origin dates from the 17th century, will be included. Its existence will display a certain devotion to practicing Judaism by its members. Such observance was esteemed higher than even their regard for their own lives, as they did so in a precarious environment. Lastly, all examples here will also emphasize the evolution of the building industry as we look at instances before, during, and after the industrial revolution.

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