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Pennies for Heaven
The History of American Synagogues and Money
Daniel Judson

Not yet released.
Publication date: June 5, 2018


Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

Brandeis
2018 • 256 pp. 6 x 9"
Jewish History / Jewish Studies / Sociology of Religion

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-5126-0275-3
$95.00 Hardcover, 978-1-5126-0274-6

$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-5126-0276-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)



The first book-length treatment of how synagogues are financed in the United States

In the annals of American Jewish history, synagogue financial records have been largely overlooked. But as Daniel Judson shows in his examination of synagogue ledgers from 1728 to the present, these records provide an array of new insights into the development of American synagogues and the values of the Jews who worshipped in them. Looking at the history of American synagogues through an economic lens, Judson examines how synagogues raised funds, financed buildings, and paid clergy. By “following the money,” he reveals the priorities of the Jewish community at a given time.

Throughout the book, Judson traces the history of capital campaigns and expenditures for buildings. He also explores synagogue competition and debates over previously sold seats, what to do about wealthy widows, the breaking down of gender norms, the hazan “bubble” (which saw dozens of overpaid cantors come to the United States from Europe), the successful move to outlaw “mushroom synagogues,” and the nascent synagogue-sharing economy of the twenty-first century. Judson shows as well the ongoing relationship of synagogue and church financing as well as the ways in which the American embrace of the free market in all things meant that the basic rules of supply and demand ultimately prevailed in the religious as well as the commercial realm.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements



“Dan Judson has a superb sense for when to let the financial figures speak and when to let the people with their inevitable anxieties, assumptions, joys, and hopes to speak. From New York’s first Jews trying to survive mean Peter Stuyvesant, through synagogue competition and debates over previously sold seats, what to do about wealthy widows and ‘mushroom synagogues’ to emerging synagogue sharing economy, Judson casts a whole new light on American Jewish religious history.”—James Hudnut-Beumler, Vanderbilt Divinity School

“Daniel Judson has written a work of great historical and topical interest on the funding of American synagogues from the colonial period until today. Pennies for Heaven displays an impeccable scholarship that will justifiably earn the praise of professional historians. Equally significant is that it will also capture the attention of Jewish and other American religious leaders and laypeople searching for guidance in their quests to support religious institutions today. This is a book to be savored and discussed!”—David Ellenson, Chancellor Emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University



RABBI DANIEL JUDSON is the associate dean, and a lecturer in Jewish history, at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School. He has written extensively on new trends in contemporary synagogue finances, and his research has been featured in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Haaretz, and the New York Jewish Week.



Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:34:34 -0500