Synagogues of
North America
and Europe
a major subject of the early Jewish postcards. While non-Jewish picture postcards often focused on famous monuments, historic churches, medieval cathedrals and tourist attractions, those produced for Jews frequently displayed synagogues from around the world.

Of particular interest were the large and elaborate temples constructed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries across Europe and the United States. Unlike the small and modest European synagogues of the Middle Ages, these new synagogues were erected on a grand scale, with monumental façades and highly decorated interiors.

Old architectural styles, in particular the classical façade of Greco-Roman temples and the Moorish style of medieval Spain, were revived and adopted for the synagogues of the Emancipation era. Beyond providing Jews of that time with a new symbol of local pride, the synagogue postcards have preserved the original view of important Jewish monuments. Because many of the European synagogues were destroyed during the Holocaust, postcards are often the only known visual record of these majestic buildings.

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All images are courtesy of  The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York / © Copyright 2008 / About the Exhibition