Tuesday, June 27, 2017

USA: Let's Document the Mid-Century Modern Synagogues of Isador Richmond & Carney Goldberg

Randolph, MA. Former Temple Beth Am. richmond & Goldberg, archs., ca. 1961. Photo: Google Streetscape.
Randolph, MA. Former Temple Beth Am. Richmond & Goldberg, archs., ca. 1961. Photo: Tod Bryant
Randolph, MA. Former Temple Beth Am. Richmond & Goldberg, archs., ca. 1961. Photo: Beth Am webpage.
USA: Let's Document the Mid-Century Modern Synagogues of Isador Richmond & Carney Goldberg
by Samuel D. Gruber

I was recently contacted by architectural historian Tod Bryant about the former Temple Beth Am, a 1961 synagogue in Randolph, MA, where Tod is inventorying historic resources.  The congregation will soon merge with Temple Beth Abraham in Canton, MA. and the Randolph facility was sold earlier this year to the New Jerusalem Evangelical Baptist Church.

Tod and I pooled our efforts and a little sleuthing determined that this mid-century modern synagogue was designed by architect Carney Goldberg (1907-1981), who with his partner Isador Richmond, designed many mid-century synagogues in Massachusetts.  Goldberg appears to have been the lead synagogue designer, but this needs to be confirmed. Probably the best known of these is Temple Emeth in South Brookline, which was included in the 1996 chapter by David Kaufman, "Temples in the American Athens: A History of the Synagogues of Boston," in The Jews of Boston. But Tifereth Israel Congregation in New Bedford, MA, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, is also a distinctive building. 

New Bedford, MA. Tifereth Israel Cong., Fund raising postcard ca. 1965. Photo: U. Mass Dartmouth Archives.

It appears several of the Richmond & Goldberg designed synagogues have already closed; either sold for reuse or demolished. Steve Kellerman photographed a few of these buildings in the 1980s, but as far as I can tell there is little other documentation of the buildings, or of the lives and work of both these active, successful award-winning Jewish architects. With the limited information easily available it is hard to get a sense of these architect's style, but certain features indicate an affinity with some of the 1950s and early 1960s designs of Percival Goodman and Fritz Nathan. I hope that this notice will inspire some my readers in the Boston area to dig a little deeper, and get out to document all of the buildings by Richmond and Goldberg that still stand, and especially those few synagogues still in use.

Randolph, MA. Former Temple Beth Am. From Google Earth.
Carney Goldberg (son of Benjamin and Jenny) was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1907. He was probably the son of immigrant Jewish parents - since there were so many Jewish immigrants in Chelsea, then one of the most densely populated Jewish towns in America after New York City.  Goldberg attended MIT and graduated with a B.S. in Architecture in 1928 and with an Masters in Architecture in 1929. In 1946 he formed a partnership with  the older and better known Isador Richmond; Isador Richmond and Carney Goldberg, Architects and Engineers. 

Richmond was also born in Chelsea (in 1893), again almost certainly to immigrant Jewish parents (Hyman Richmond and Lena Tanzer). Richmond had also attended MIT in a 2-year special course in architecture from 1913-1915, prior to serving in World War I. He subsequently won the prestigious Roche Traveling Scholarship in 1923 and spent time at the American Academy in Rome. Goldberg was subsequently awarded the Roche scholarship in 1931. Richmond was probably on the review committee. 

According to AIA membership information filed by Goldberg and a few other sources, the team designed at least nine synagogues and one Jewish Community Center between 1948 and 1966. There may be others later. Here is my list so far:

Temple Emanuel, Newton, MA (date?)
Temple Emeth, Brookline (1948)
Temple Beth El, Portland, Maine (1950
Temple Tifereth Israel, Malden, MA (1955) - merged with TSS (?) - bldg up for sale 2016
JCC, Brighton, MA (1956)
 Temple Beth Israel, Worcester, MA (1959)
Temple Agudath Achim, Leominster, MA (ca. 1960)
Temple Beth Elohim, Wellseley (1960; sold and/or demolished? ca. 2010)
Temple Beth Am, Randolph, MA. (1961?; sold to a church 2016))
Tifereth Israel, New Bedford, MA (1966) 

Worcester, MA. Temple Beth Israel. Carney Goldberg, arch. (1959). Photo: Wikipedia.

Former Temple Tifereth Israel, 539 Salem St., Malden, MA (1955). Photo: Jonathan Goldblith, courtesy Julian Preisler.
Former Temple Tifereth Israel, 539 Salem St., Malden, MA (1955). Photo: Jonathan Goldblith, courtesy Julian Preisler.
Prior to partnering with Goldberg, Isador Richmond had worked at Cram & Ferguson, Bellows & Aldrich, Guy Lowell, and then established and independent practice in 1925. According to his AIA membership documents he was associate architect of the Newtowne Court Housing project, Cambridge, Massachusetts; other buildings designed "include Lamson & Hubbard, Boston; chapel at Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow, India; industrial buildings for Dennison Manufacturing Company, Framingham; housing projects in Brookline, Mass" and also "college buildings, libraries, temples, synagogues."  He also apparently did some teaching at MIT.

New Bedford, MA. Tifereth Israel Cong., presentation drawing., ca. 1966. Photo: U Mass Dartmouth Archives

New Bedford, MA. Tifereth Israel Cong.,
Photo: U. Mass Dartmouth Archives

New Bedford, MA. Tifereth Israel Cong.,
Photo: U. Mass Dartmouth Archives

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Remembering Nikos Stavroulakis (1932-2017)

Nicholas (Nikos Stavroulakis at the Future of Jewish Monuments Conference, New York, Nov. 1990 (Photo from video, ISJM).
Nikos Stavroulakis at Etz Hayyim Synagogue Re-dedication after Arson. Photo: Etz Hayyim Synagogue, 2010.
Remembering Nikos Stavroulakis (1932-2017)

Today would have been the 85th birthday of Nicholas (Nikos) Stavroulakis, the grand man of Greek Jewish history and culture, who died on May 19, 2017.  Instead of a birthday party, there is a memorial gathering for Nikos in Hania, Crete, where he made his permanent home for the past quarter century, and where he fulfilled his lifelong dream of restoring and re-animating the derelict Etz Hayyim Synagogue, which had been devastated during the Holocaust and neglected in subsequent decades.

Sadly, I cannot be in Crete today, so I write this as the memorial service is getting underway. 

Nikos was a great teacher and inspiration to me, and I was privileged to work with him (mostly by email and telephone) on the Hania synagogue restoration in the 1990s.  In truth, despite the success of that project, it did strain our relationship at times as Nikos's passion for the project often outran the paperwork required for the project by the World Monuments Fund. Though I was in direct contact with Nikos only sporadically in the past decade, I was able to follow the growth and success of the Etz Hayyim Synagogue and Center via social media and the internet, and to hear the accounts of visitors to Crete, always delivered with wide-eyed enthusiasm both for the experience and especially for Nikos himself. 

You can read how he influenced others here

Nicholas Stavroulakis. Woodcut from the Book of Jeremiah (Philadelphia: JPS, 1973)
Nicholas Stavroulakis. Woodcut from the Book of Jeremiah (Philadelphia: JPS, 1973)
Nikos has a magnetic personality, based on his mix of intellectual brilliance, creative vision, puckish charm, righteous indignation, deep kindness and compassion, and a hypnotically mellifluous voice. I fell under Nikos's spell in the late 1980s when we began to correspond after I assumed the Directorship of the new Jewish Heritage Council of the World Monuments Fund. He was then Director of the Jewish Museum in Athens, which he had helped found in 1977. We finally met in New York when he participated in the Future of Jewish Monuments Conference in New York in November, 1990, and it was then that he began to speak on the international stage about the need to protect and preserve the post-antique synagogue of Greece. As director of the Jewish Museum he and Tim DeVinney had been documenting these far flung buildings, and they published their illustrated history and guidebook Jewish Sites and Synagogues of Greece  (Athens: Talos Press, 1992), one of the very first published surveys of Jewish monuments for any country of the world. In this, as in so many things, Nikos was ahead of the curve.

Nikos was an iconoclast in many ways. He was an historian of cultural traditional, but he hated bureaucracy and the institutional mindset that things should be done one one because they had always been done that way. He bucked against the formalities and prejudices of cultural gatekeepers - universities, religious orders, and governments. But unlike many brilliant disrupters, Nikos had the imagination and tenacity to create new communities and structures to replace those he found lacking. His own career was nomadic and erratic and yet it did lead - seemingly inevitably - to his work and leadership in Hania which brought together so many threads of his intellectual, creative, spiritual and social self. 

 Hania, Crete. Etz Hayyim Synagogue restoration. Photo: N. Stavroulakis 1998

He was a leader and a trend sender. There was something of the prophet in Nikos.  One can see him in the images he made of Jeremiah when he illustrated that Bible book with woodcuts, published in 1973.  Before Etz Hayyim, Nikos was a founder and leader of museums in Athens and Thessaloniki. All these efforts become models for efforts by others in other countries.  Nikos was also was a talented artist (see his woodcuts that illustrate the Book of Jeremiah), and he was reputed to be a great cook, and he wrote a cookbook. 

Nikos was one a handful of first generation pioneers who took on the task to document, remember, protect and present the heritage of Jewish places and communities in the decades after the Holocaust. Because he worked in Greece, he was not as widely known as some of his Eastern European colleagues. And because he also colored outside the lines, working across national, ethnic and religious boundaries he was not always embraced as closely as others by the mainstream Jewish community - in Greece or in America. But it his his example of active love and truth-seeking curiosity that the world and world religious need today more than ever.  Nikos will be missed terribly by the thousands he knew and inspired - even during short often short interactions.

Donations in Nikos's memory can be made to Etz Hayyim. See the Etz Hayyim website here:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Germany: Simple Sign Marks Berlin's First Purpose-Built Synagogue

Berlin, Germany. Informational sign at the site of the Heidereutergasse Synagogue. Photo: Samuel Gruber (2003).
Berlin, Germany. Informational sign at the site of the Heidereutergasse Synagogue. Photo: Samuel Gruber (2003)
Germany: Simple Sign Marks Berlin's First Purpose Built Synagogue
by Samuel D. Gruber

Here is some more on the memorial landscape of Berlin. 

Adjacent to the green space where the Rosenstrasse Monument is dramatically arranged is the plot formerly the site of the first purpose-built synagogue in Berlin. It was known as the Heidereutergasse Synagogue, after the street on which is erected, but after the Neue Synagogue at Oranienburger Strasse was inaugurated in 1866, it was referred as the Alte Synagoge (Old Synagogue). The synagogue was the only one in which religious services were permitted after the outbreak of war in 1939 and services were held there until 1943. The synagogue was bombed in later air raids but survived in poor condition. The ruins were torn down under Communism in the 1960s. 

Today, there is a informational sign at the site. This is very different from the commemorative monument erected at the location of the Muncher Strasse Synagogue in the 1960s. In this commemortive cityscape, the former synagogue is very much an afterthought to the Rosenstrasse monument. In a way this is unfortunate, since the monument commemorates the resistance to the detainment of Jewish men in a former Jewish building that existed here because of the synagogue. 

The original Heidereutergasse Synagogue, built in 1712-14 was substantially altered in the 19th century. The original form is best known from a series of 18th century illustrations by A. M. Werner and F. A. Calau. The building was in the tradition of the hall type synagogue erected as a single large rectangular vaulted sanctuary. This type was common from at least the Middle Ages, and German versions can be seen in the woodcuts published by the Jewish apostate Johannes Pfefferkorn.  In the 17th century, however, adjustments were made to provide more and better space for women often in a gallery above the entrance vestibule as was the case  at the Izaak Synagogue in Krakow Poland) and in Lancut (Poland), and elsewhere. In the 18th-century in Berlin and in some other German towns the form was fulfilled in some splendid spacious and well-lit interiors.

Possibly already in the 18th century, and certainly in the 19th century, the synagogue was too small Berlin's rapidly growing Jewish population.The growth of Reform Judaism and the building the first Reform Temple in 1846, and then the monumental New Synagogue in 1859-66, eased pressure and, after failure to build a new synagogue in the 1840s, forced the old synagogue to modernize its facility in two extensive mid-19th century remodelings in 1853 and again in 1881. By the end of the 19th century the early form would have been unrecognizable. 

Heidereutergasse hardly exists today, it is just a little blind alley next ot some modern office buildings the lead to a small paved area with an historical sign located in a position which would have been list in front of the old building. In 2000, some fragments of the structure were identified in situ but underground level ground but there has been no talk of excavating or rebuilding the synagogue as has been the case in L'viv, Ukraine; Vilnius, Lithuania; and elsewhere. 

Berlin, Germany.  Heidereutergasse Synagogue as seen in an etching by F. A. Calau of ca. 1795.
Berlin, Germany.  Heidereutergasse Synagogue interior as seen in an engraving by A. M. Werner of ca. 1720. of ca. 1795.
The building, which owes much to contemporary German Protestant church design, is described in detail in English by Carol Herselle Krinsky in Synagogues of Europe (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), pp. 261-263:
The synagogue in Berlin was built about forty years after the definitive settlement of Jews in the city (1671). Michael Kemmeter of Regensburg, a Christian architect, built it on a center-city site not far from the church of St. Mary, on land which had been owned by the bishops of Havelberg. The synagogue occupied part of a large courtyard hidden from the street by the house of a government official. The synagogue was a substantial one, apparently about 10 m. high, made of masonry covered with stucco, and crowned by a peaked roof with dormers. Five tall, round-headed windows filled the eastern wall, and six more lighted the north and south walls. A rusticated main portal and a door to the right of it led to the main floor where the mens' area was located, while women entered by a modest door in the west bay of the north side and climbed interior stairs up to the gallery.
The main room was oblong and tall, although the engraver of a view of the interior exaggerated its height and proportion. About half of each wall seems to have been given over to the long windows. The ceiling’s coved panels rose to a slightly depressed elongated octagonal panel which emphasized the center of the room, where the large bimah was placed. Each of the pews along the central axis could seat only about three or four men because the squarish bimah took up so much room. The bimah lacked a canopy but had seats attached to its western side, a feature familiar from the bimahs at Prague-Altneuschul, Metz (pre-1845), and Volpa. The ark was tall and lavishly carved with two tiers of columns and undulating cornices; dense foliage projecting at each side ...
In 1853 the congregation engaged the Protestant architect, Eduard Knoblauch, to remodel the building. A decade later Knoblauch designed the Neue Synagogue at Oranienburgerstrasse synagogue and the Jewish hospital. At the Heidereutergasse building "he added anterooms, galleries, and pews, and changed the decorative style to an eclectic classical-Romanesque mixture which was in fashion around 1855." [Krinsky, p. 263].
Berlin, Germany. Site plan on informational sign at the site of the Heidereutergasse Synagogue. The red dot shows the location of the sign and viewing area. 
Berlin, Germany. Aerial view of rosenstrasse and Heidereutergasse area. Green area in central is the memorial space. The former synagogue site was to the left. Heidereutergasse is a small alley at the "top" pf the green space. Photo: Google Earth.

Berlin, Germany. Informational sign at the site of the Heidereutergasse Synagogue. Photo: Samuel Gruber (2003)
Berlin, Germany. Interior of the Heidereutergasse Synagogue in 1930, shown on informational sign.
Berlin, Germany. Heidereutergasse Synagogue in 1946. Photo from informational sign.
See also: 

Rebiger, Bill. “Synagoge Heidereutergasse.” Das jüdische Berlin. Kulur, Religion und Alltag gestern und heute. Berlin: Jaron Verlag, 2000. 76-77

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Germany: Berlin's Dramatic Rosenstrasse Monument

 Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse street sign. photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003.

 Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003.
Germany: Berlin's Dramatic Rosenstrasse Monument
by Samuel D. Gruber

Since a recent visit to Berlin  I've been posting about some of the less well known Jewish and Holocaust-related monuments and memorials in the city. I've already posted about the Münchener Strasse Synagogue monument, the Jewish cemetery on Grosse Hamburger Strasse, monuments and markers at U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, and the monument and burial section at the Weissensee Cemetery for Jewish soldiers who died in World War I.
Today, because it is International Women's Day (shouldn't every day be?), I introduce the very dramatic sculptural ensemble commemorating the Rosenstraße.demonatrations of 1943, when hundreds of German women who were wives and mothers of Jewish men, protested for a week to have their men released from Nazi custody. 

First a new street kiosk (known as a Litfass column) was erected close to the site of where the men were detained. This new information kiosk, which provides history of the events, recalls an earlier kiosk on the site in 1943. We know this from photos taken at the time by who was among those imprisoned men subsequently released. Read more about the memorial here. 

The main work - is the sculptural group "Block der Frauen" ("Block of Women" monument), carved by sculptor Ingeborg Hunzinger (1915-2009), and dedicated in 1995. Hunzigern, a communist who has studied in Berlin in the 1930s until she was forced to emigrate, had worked with the prominent East German sculptor Fritz Cremer in the 1950s, probably  when he designed the monument at Buchenwald. Hunzinger designed the Rosenstrasse monument in the 1980s, but policies in the GDR (East Germany) prevented its acceptance and installation.  In 1995, after German unification, the new Berlin Senate vote for its creation.

Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003

Cremer's heroic Buchenwald work is primarily a Communist national monument collecting all inmates as anti-fascists, and celebration the Communist struggle agaisnt the Nazi regime. despite the presence of Jews early in the history of the Buchenwald camp and again in its last months, there is nothing specifically Jewish in any of Cremer's designs.  Hunzinger, however, even though she is celebrating the bravery of German Christian women, fills her carved blocks with Jewish symbols. She also allows her work to express both collective anger on near mythic scale as well as more intimate personal grief. Hunzinger's work calls up the dram of Greek tragedy in the massive blocks of soft red stone that spill across the plaza - much as the demonstrators themselves must have slowly and bravely come forth first as individuals and then en mass. 

The sculptural group of sculptures is located near the site of the former Jewish administrative building in which the Gestapo held the men captive, which was subsequently destroyed in the war. 

The inscription on the rear of the monuments reads: "The strength of civil disobedience, the vigor of love overcomes the violence of dictatorship; Give us our men back; Women were standing here, defeating death; Jewish men were free."

Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003.

Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003.

Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003

Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003.

Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003.

Berlin, Germany. Rosenstrasse Protest Monument, Ingeborg Hunzinger, sculptor, 1995. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2003.

Though the Rosenstrasse protest is now more well-known (there is even a movie), when the monument was deigned in the 1980s and then finally installed and dedicated in 1995, the story was little known.  In fact, it is the rare instance where German civilians actively protested Nazi policies and actions. In ten years of Nazi rule, after the first brutal crackdowns in 1933 until 1943, such public resistance in Berlin and elsewhere was unknown. The women risked their lives to successfully gain the men's release and many of the prisoners managed to survive through various means until the end of the war. Read more about the protest here.

Adjacent to the sculpture is also the site of  Berlin's now-destroyed oldest purpose-built synagogue, the Heideruetergasse Synagogue opened in 1712. The synagogue was damaged on Kristallnacht and during Allied bombing, and the remains were demolished in the 1960s.

For further reading:

Nathan Stoltzfus, Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany, Rutgers University Press (March 2001)