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Moorish Revival

34a.jpg (6746 bytes) 026-temple-beth-el.jpg (62805 bytes) LES007-01.jpg (53041 bytes) 010-facade.gif (52880 bytes) 035-Erste_Warshawer_Synagogue.jpg (69209 bytes)
025- Temple Emanu-El  026- Temple Beth-El 007-Sung Tak Buddhist Temple 010-Congregation K’Hal Adath Jeshurun 035-Former First Warsaw Congregation
City Center's Facade 004A.jpg (54178 bytes) 104B.jpg (22581 bytes)
097 City Center 55th Street Theatre 115 St. James Theater 004-Central Synagogue 104-Park East Synagogue

Under persecution in Christian Europe,  Jewish communities had been unable to develop a tradition of monumental architecture. After the emancipation of Jews in Europe, and the growth of large Jewish communities in America, it was possible to erect major worship buildings. The problem was what style to use: classical buildings called upon pagan Greco-Roman themes which many considered unsuitable for a Jewish worship space; and the Gothic style so dominant among Christians was equally unsuitable. One solution widely adopted was to make use of "Moorish" architecture - that is the architecture of Muslim Spain (or Andalusia). The relatively tolerant climate of Medieval Spain had been a golden age of Jewish culture, and it was believed that Muslim architecture had incorporated aspects of Jewish religious architecture. Thus the phenomenon of German Jewish (Ashkenazi) congregations adopting the style of Muslim Spain and the golden age of Sephardic Jewry.

The first major examples of the style were Friedrich von Gartner's Munich Synagogue of 1832 and Gottfried Semper's Dreden Synagogue of 1837. The first American synagogue in this style was B'nai Jeshrun in Cicinnati in 1866.  Henry Fernbach , born in Germany and an immigrant to the US in 1855, could have known these buildings directly or through publications. At all events he used the style for several American synagogues.