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Metropolitan JewsPolitics, Race, and Religion in Postwar Detroit$
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Lila Corwin Berman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226247830

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226247977.001.0001

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The Sacred Suburban Sites of Jewish Metropolitan Urbanism

The Sacred Suburban Sites of Jewish Metropolitan Urbanism

(p.150) Chapter Five The Sacred Suburban Sites of Jewish Metropolitan Urbanism
Metropolitan Jews

lila corwin berman

University of Chicago Press

Throughout the United States, Conservative and Reform rabbis were some of the most ardent Jewish supporters of integration and urban equality, yet they also led synagogues away from newly integrated urban neighborhoods and into all white, privileged suburban enclaves. With attention to the architectural shifts that accompanied synagogues’ moves from city to suburb, this chapter argues that rabbis and other synagogue leaders found in architectural modernism a persuasive form for expressing metropolitan urbanism. Enmeshed in urban congregations’ decisions to rebuild their sacred sites in suburbs was a set of tensions that Jews expressed about the terms of their privilege and their connections to cities. Indisputably, monumental suburban synagogue buildings paid visible homage to Jewish socioeconomic privilege—this has been the reigning interpretation of the postwar boom in suburban synagogue building. But the buildings also participated in the process through which Jews reinvented their relationships to cities. In the deliberations that went into constructing these new edifices, Jews continued to reposition themselves within the framework of metropolitan urbanism, asserting a gulf between city space and their new suburban landscape while still connecting themselves to a host of spiritual, cultural, aesthetic, and political ideals framed by their self-perception as an urban people.

Keywords:   synagogue, suburbanization, Modernist art, architecture, real estate, development, Jewish, prosperity, humanistic, Judaism

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