America’s Pioneer Jewish Congregations

Architecture, Community and History

Julian Preisler

From early congregations in 13 colonies to those established in central and western regions, beautiful synagogues were built. Congregations and their members contributed to the life of small and large cities alike. This book takes a tour of the oldest existing Jewish congregations and the whole spectrum of synagogue life is represented.
Date Published :
December 2017
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
Color and B&W photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781625450647
Pages : 144
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.5 inches
Stock Status : In stock


The United States has the second largest Jewish community in the world with a wealth of history and architecture spanning 363 years. From the earliest Jewish congregations established in the original thirteen colonies, to the later congregations established in the central and western regions of the country, beautiful synagogues were built and vital communities were created and thrived. Jewish congregations and their members contributed to the life and success of small towns and large cities alike. America's Pioneer Jewish Congregations: Architecture, Community and History takes the reader on a tour of the oldest existing Jewish congregation in each of the 50 states plus Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. It highlights the history of each congregation and includes photographs of the various buildings that housed these congregations over the years. Some are one of only a few synagogues in a particular state, while others are part of a statewide Jewish community with hundreds of synagogues. The whole spectrum of American synagogue life is represented in all its diversity.

About The Author

Julian H. Preisler is an independent researcher, author, genealogist, and documentarian with a background in historic preservation and archives administration. His areas of expertise include American synagogue history and architecture, American Jewish community history, and Jewish genealogy research. His most recent books include The Synagogues of Central & Western Pennsylvania and Jewish West Virginia. Originally from Detroit, Mr. Preisler resides in the West Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. He is the son of Holocaust survivors from Germany and the former Czechoslovakia, and has had a love of architecture and Jewish history since he was young.


5 stars “Photographs of past and present captivate before one turns to histories that reflect the customs of original homelands, revealing how mobility in the United States has enhanced rather than diminished traditions. The book is a testament to the author’s ability to integrate the history of Jewish presence as a worthy example of freedom of religion while also showing the remarkable variation in architecture.”

- Seattle Book Review

“Part history, part travel guide and part photo album, the book takes readers on a tour of the oldest existing Jewish congregations in each of the 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands.”

- The Jewish News of Northern California

“Julian H. Preisler has created a festival for the eyes in his beautiful book brimming with photographs, both present day and past, of America’s synagogues.”

- Savannah Jewish News

“…a fascinating piece of American Jewish history. Its pictures, and the histories that it contains, are well worth studying, for they tell us much about the builders of the Jewish life that we have inherited.”

- Jack Riemer, The Jewish Advocate

“An excellent choice for summer reading, Preisler’s book combines travel log, photographic essay and historical background to take readers on a comprehensive tour of American Jewish congregations and their synagogues over the past 363 years.”

- The Philadelphia Jewish Voice

"There are many photos of synagogue interiors, with beautifully designed Ark, windows, etc. […] Anyone interested in religious architecture will find this book a valuable resource."

- Abraham Hoffman, Jewish Museum of the American West

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