Shaare Zedek New Bethel Way of the Cross (New York Moorish Revival)

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I’m still on 118th St, where, a couple weeks back, I stopped to notice the bold red and clear whites of the Moorish revival New Bethel Way of the Cross. It turns out that New Bethel Way of the Cross used to be Congregation Shaare Zedek, commissioned in 1900.  I like everything about the site, the way the flat red surface accentuates the white decorative work of the floral and geometric shapes, the gate-like arches over the three front doors with the arabesque carving, as if pinched in the middle, connecting the middle door with the main window over it, the columns with arches that climb up the side of the building towards the short black towers, the simple cross that complements the overall complexity of the design. A form of Jewish auto-orientalism, moorish style synagogues were supposed to be soft and sensual, not hard and neo-classical.

As happens so many times in my walks through New York, the  buildings or places that catch my eye tend to have a history. In trying to take photographs of this place, I went for the zoom-in close up and oblique angles to give a more intense and distracted look to the site. As always, I wanted the color and the shapes to fill up the picture frame. For a better sense of the place, its history, and what it looks like, you can read more about Shaare Zedek New Bethel Way of the Cross and New York Moorish revival here at this blog by Syracuse University friend-colleague Sam Gruber, who knows more about this kind of stuff than most.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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