Is high-synagogue a thing?
November 1, 2013 11:35 AM   Subscribe

In a religious studies course I took eight or nine years ago, the professor mentioned a Jewish congregation in NYC whose services looked almost identical to high-church Anglican services, just with the liturgies changed out. Now that I live in the New York City area (and am dating someone who is Episcopalian-Jewish), I'm quite interested in checking this out, but nothing I can think to search for on Google is turning up the right results. Any MeFi-ites have any idea which congregation this might be?
posted by naturalog to Religion & Philosophy (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is it possible you're thinking of Congregation Emanu-El? Very old, for a long time very much a society place -- see this article. They definitely have an organ, a choir and the Union Prayer Book, all of which is very "high-Reform."

In general, old-school Reform Judaism in America (like, mid-to-late 19th century) discarded a lot of traditional Jewish ritual and replaced it with practices that looked like the "respectable" Christianity of the day. Some of those changes (families sitting together instead of separated by sex) have stuck; many (referring to the rabbi as the "minister"!) have not. A lot of those Reform congregations have actually become more traditional over the course of the 20th century (for reasons it would take a book to explore) -- I wouldn't be surprised if even Congregation Emanu-El has moved a bit in that direction.
posted by ostro at 12:31 PM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Hmm, could be Emanu-El but I thought of my old place, Park Avenue Synagogue.

It is certainly one of the "Big Macher" synagogues. Check out this slideshow.
posted by bearwife at 1:35 PM on November 1, 2013

To add some historical flavor, the official luncheon celebrating the first graduating class from Hebrew Union College in 1883 featured a menu of Little Neck Clams (half shell), "Soft-shell Crabs" and "Salade of Shrimps,"... [and] ice cream and cheese that followed the meat courses.

Reform Judaism, until quite recently, put great stock in blending in with the local goyim.
posted by bluejayway at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sorry for the drive by answer but a search term to try is "classical reform."
posted by Salamandrous at 5:10 PM on November 1, 2013

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