Our Archives

At Central Synagogue

Our Books

Knowing where we come from is central to knowing who we are. Since 2001, the Central Synagogue Archives Department has published four monographs focusing on a particular part of the congregation’s history and the New York Jewish community. These books contain pictures and insight from historians and important figures who have influenced Central Synagogue’s past and present. We also preserve earlier publications about our congregation and its history.

Several of these books have been digitized, and can be read online.

The Wide World of Central Synagogue

Read The Wide World of Central Synagogue

Explore the history of how our rabbis and synagogue leaders have engaged our local, national, and international communities in seeking justice and social change through a Jewish lens.

The author, Dr. Jeffrey S. Gurock, is the Klaperman Professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University and a nationally recognized scholar and writer of New York Jewish history. His book, Jews in Gotham: New York in a Changing City, won the Jewish Book Council’s “Jewish Book of the Year” prize in 2012.

The Americanization of the Jewish Prayer Book and the Liturgical Development of Congregation Ahawath Chesed

Look inside The Americanization of the Jewish Prayer Book

"This monograph explores the development and tension between individual congregational liturgies and a denominational prayer book. We should be proud that rabbis of our congregation were instrumental in the evolution of an American Reform prayer book, which eventually became the Union Prayer Book, a precursor to the present Mishkan T’filah.” - Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Rabbi Emeritus of Central Synagogue

The author, Rabbi Gary P. Zola, PhD, is Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. In 2011 he was appointed by President Obama to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

Sounding Jewish Tradition: The Music of Central Synagogue

Look inside Sounding Jewish Tradition: The Music of Central Synagogue

"This outstanding monograph offers us unique insight into the history of Jewish liturgical music in America as it evolved to find its own voice in American society. At the heart of this history are generations of rabbis, cantors and their choirs and musicians who continually strived to enrich our worship and Jewish communal life. We are honored and proud to share their story with you.” - Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Rabbi Emeritus of Central Synagogue

Author Judah M. Cohen is the Lou and Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture, Associate Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University.

Central Synagogue in its Changing Neighborhood

Read Central Synagogue in its Changing Neighborhood

In 1872 Central Synagogue moved from their small building on the Lower East Side to the grand structure on Lexington Avenue and East 55th Street – where it still stands today. What prompted this move? How was Central Synagogue influenced by its old and new surroundings? How did the synagogue relate and contribute to the development of the Midtown neighborhood? These questions are explored to their fullest in this monograph by architectural historian Andrew Dolkart.

Andrew S. Dolkart is an architectural historian who teaches at Columbia University and has written extensively about the architecture and development of New York City. He has also written walking tour guides to the Upper East Side, Harlem, and Lower Manhattan, published by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Congregating and Consecrating at Central Synagogue

Download Congregating and Consecrating at Central Synagogue

How did Central Synagogue respond to the changing conditions of life in New York City throughout its history? This monograph, divided into two parts, explores ideas of social-group development and melding as well as identity-building of membership. It also examines the ways public ceremonies help create and sustain the bonds of religious fellowship. The book includes several pages of photographs that give visual context to these two engaging and informative essays.

Elizabeth Blackmar, author of Part I, is Professor of History at Columbia University.

Arthur A. Goren, author of Part II, is the Russell and Bettina Knapp Professor Emeritus of American Jewish History at Columbia University and Professor Emeritus at Hebrew University.

Other Central Publications

Central at 140

Read Central at 140

This anniversary publication is both a look back at Central’s long history and a snapshot in time. Published in 1979, this concise essay is illustrated with both historical and contemporary images of congregational life. Three congregants assembled and edited this volume: Stella F. Fuld (editor), Janet Stone and Mildred Ross (assistant editors).

Your Temple

Read Your Temple

The oldest of Central’s publications, Your Temple preserves an address prepared and delivered by congregational president Herbert Schwarz in 1958. The narrative retains the personality of a spoken lecture, and gives insight into how Central and its members thought about the synagogue more than 60 years ago.

Contact Our Archives Office

212-838-5122 ext. 2041

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Archives Office Hours:
Wednesdays, by appointment

Make a Donation to our Archives Fund