Resplendent Synagogue: Architecture and Worship in an Eighteenth-Century Polish Community
Thomas C. Hubka
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
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.”
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
This path-breaking book brings back to life the beautiful wooden synagogue, with its elaborate painted ceiling, erected in the eighteenth century in the town of Gwozdziec (today Hvizdets in Western Ukraine) and destroyed by the Nazis in 1941. It describes how the synagogue was built and movingly depicts its central role in the religious and social life of the town. A reconstruction of this syngagogue is a central feature of the core exhibition of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. The book is essential reading for all interested in the history of the Jews in Eastern Europe.
—Antony Polonsky, Emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University, and Chief Historian, Global Education Outreach Project, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Adam Kirsch...does a masterful job of summarizing the entire Talmud section by
section and is insightful as a both a reader and a storyteller. Kirsch’s work is another step in teaching the broader
Jewish world that the Talmud is a book worth opening again and again.
Thomas C. Hubka is professor emeritus in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee. In 2006 he received the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s Henry Glassie Award in recognition of his lifetime of achievement. His most recent book is How the Working-Class Home Became Modern, 1900–1940. Resplendent Synagogue: Architecture and Worship in an Eighteenth-Century Polish Community won the 2004 Orbis Book Prize for Polish studies, Honorable Mention.