Publication -- Rudi Klein's magnum opus on Hungarian synagogues is out!
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
My friend Rudi Klein's magisterial and encyclopedic book on Hungarian synagogues has been published, adding an extraordinarily rich resource to anyone interested in architecture and architectural history as well as in the development of Jewish art and lifestyle from the late 18th century to World War I. A big Mazel Tov to him!
The hefty tome -- it runs more than 670 pages and weighs in at about 4 kilograms -- traces the development of synagogue architecture in the historic Hungarian and Hapsburg lands of central Europe. Klein describes several hundred synagogues -- including destroyed buildings as well as buildings that still exist, classifying and commenting on their "genealogy, typography and architectural significance."
Hundreds of gorgeous and informative photographs, drawings, diagrams, old postcards, plans and other images illustrate the text -- most contemporary pictures were taken by Klein himself. The main text is in Hungarian, but there is a lengthy summary in English -- and all of the illustrations bear English captions. Here are a few sample pages:
Klein breaks down the architectural typology into range of types
In addition to detailed descriptions of exemplary buildings, he includes a comparative catalogue of thumb nail pictures illustrating all the synagogues of each type.
It is a landmark work, the fruit of many years of archival and on-site research, which will be of great value to a wide audience -- from scholars and students to, well, tourists. (It amplifies, corrects, broadens and expands some of the material included in a book on Hungarian synagogues by Aniko Gazda, published in 1989, which I used as the guide for my first foray around Hungary looking for synagogues -- in 1990, as well as for other trips.)
Unfortunately, the sheer size (and weight) of Rudi's book, not to mention the price (approx $80) -- plus the fact that it is at this point only available in Hungary -- limit the possibilities..... I very much hope that a digital version will be published so that the wealth of material can be easily obtained by a broad international readership.
As the author of National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe, I have roamed thousands of miles around Europe's historic Jewish heartland, bringing Jewish heritage to light for on-site explorers and armchair travelers alike. On this blog I will post photographs, links and personal experiences related to Jewish heritage sites and travel, particularly in the countries of east-central Europe.
Aside from clearly marked quotations, links and pictures, all material on this blog is copyright ⓒ Ruth Ellen Gruber
I'm an American writer, photographer, and public speaker long based in Europe. I've chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues for more than 20 years. My latest books are "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe," published in 2007, and "Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)," published in 2008.
I also am working on "Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys: Imaginary Wild Wests in Contemporary Europe," an exploration of the American West in the European imagination for which I won a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH summer stipend grant.