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Resplendent Synagogue: Architecture and Worship in an Eighteenth-Century Polish Community (The Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry) Hardcover – October 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"Resplendent Synagogue represents the traditional wooden synagogues of eighteenth-century Polish Jewry, and delves in magnificent detail not merely into the architecture of the structure but also into the architecture of the community and the influences on the structure by the worshipers who davened there—and the influences of the structure in turn upon the worshipers by the nature of the edifice."—The Jewish Press (New York, NY)

“A pioneering work... the first detailed analysis of an East European synagogue on the background of both architectural and religious context... should appeal to a broad audience and belongs in serious collections of Jewish studies, sacred architecture and comparative studies.” —Religious Studies Review

“The writing is scholarly and information is presented coherently, backed with historical documentation. A plethora of historic images, maps, intricate renderings and diagrams illustrate every aspect of the long-destroyed building, its construction and its position in the community. Where information on the Gwozdziec synagogue is lacking, such as who designed and built it, Hubka draws on the history and architecture of other synagogues in Poland so that every subject has been intelligently introduced… [Hubka] illuminates the interior of the building as seen by this person, introducing the reader not only to new surroundings but also to a different time period.”—Traditional Building

“One must surely recognize the value of his work, since he has created a fundamental awareness of the social and religious functioning of these once resplendent but now lots monuments of vernacular architecture. There are very few scholars able to contribute the kind of interpretation Hbuka has providd because the task requires the combination of knowledge in Jewish liturgy, history, art, architecture, and scripture as well as an ability to work in a wide range of languages… Hubka's work has wider imiplications for many disciplines and his contribution will not fade away as research evolves.” —Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture


“Hubka’s book exhibits a fine blend of scholarship, accessibility, and panache. In fact, Hubka’s is the only book in the field of Jewish architecture that attempts to contextualize a building with such specificity and with such a broad sense of the way it belongs in its immediate and more extensive cultural surroundings. It is unique in using architecture to fill in details of the relatively undiscovered country of pre-Hasidic Eastern Europe. The extrapolations it invites are essential to understanding the period and place, making Hubka’s thesis a force to be reckoned with.” (Marc M. Epstein, Associate Professor, Religion and Jewish Studies, Vassar College)

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Product Details

  • Series: The Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Brandeis; 1st edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584652160
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584652168
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,471,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nadine on July 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this beautiful book while looking for more information on the lost world of my ancestors. I got my answer, one of them is mentioned twice in this book, as the young Rabbi of the newly built synagogue in Gwozdziec, around 1731. The text is very accessible, detailed and extremely informative, the illustrations and drawings are amazing; one can only imagine the years of meticulous research that went into recreating the lost art of wooden houses of worship and the accurate description of daily life and interaction between the various ethnicities of the region. Recommended to everyone interested in the art and history of Europe (Poland, Ukraine and vicinity), religious buildings and Judaism. Congratulations to Professor Hubka, the result is a resplendent art book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Curious on December 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful in its whole!
Lovely illustrations, reasonable commentary as to both objective history and subjective interpretation all contributing to a jewel of a work. People may argue with some of the conclusions made by the author, but I can find no better ones at the present. Considering all of the tracts on the architecture of Churches, more really should be available on Synagogues.
Most of what is currently available on such construction is limited to modern works and certainly very little can be noted of the largely-destroyed buildings of Europe in the wake of WWII. Some areas of structures' vestiges has been shown in pictures in Silent Places, but with no intent to reconstruct them.
For those who want to understand Jewish Culture of the Shtetl, at least in the microcosm, a work such as this is essential. The fact that it is achieved in such a thorough manner is a major plus here!
If you think that you might be interested in this area, you really are remiss in not getting, or at least reading, this work.
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By Judith Abraham on March 27, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A stunning volume, well-researched, and an excellent addition to a more wide-ranging Jewish library. Most of the synagogues of eastern Europe were made of wood: almost none survived the war. But the extraordinary workmanship in carpentry and painting is worth studying.
This is a memory of a shattered world, and the memory should be kept alive like the eternal light over the bimah. Life was lived in these buildings, themselves built from living materials. They were earthy, substantial, ornate and an amazing tribute to those who built them.
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By Bill Farran on September 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an artist doing lino cuts of wooden synagagues of Eastern Europe this book made my understanding of these buildings crystal clear. It explains the time period of their building and the architecture of these wonderful synagogues.Wooden Synagogues
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