Document Type





Jewish; Jews; Migration; Synagogue; United States; Jewish Community; Architecture; Poland; Art; Religious Art; Immigrants; Wooden Synagogues;




American Art and Architecture | American Material Culture | Architectural History and Criticism | European History | Jewish Studies | Other History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Religion | United States History


Hundreds of thousands of Jews from Poland came to America after 1880. Many built synagogues with details recalling synagogues in their homeland. Immigrant artisans brought motifs and methods of Poland. Many of these synagogues were small, so the relationship to Polish art was on the inside in the painted and carved decoration. Established architects also had access to Polish synagogues as sources. With publication of the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-06) images of Polish synagogues, such as the Warsaw’s Tlomackie Street Synagogue, became part of many Jewish libraries. More Polish influence came in the 1950s. Most architects were building modern synagogues, but some looked for an architecture that was also Jewish and commemorative. The catalyst was the Piechotka’s Wooden Synagogues, published in Polish in 1957 (English edition, 1959). In the 1960s and ‘70s almost every Jewish architect was studying the book. Subsequently, references to wooden synagogues have been added to scores synagogues.

Additional Information

J. Malinowski, R. Piatkowska and T. Sztyma-Knasieka, eds., Jewish Artists and Central-Eastern Europe: Art Center – Identity – Heritage from the 19th Century to the Second World War, (Warsaw: Polish Society of Oriental Art and Wydawnictwo DiG, 2010), 145-154

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.