Cipriano interviews Van Blunk and Rosanio about their 15-minute documentary on six synagogues in south Philadelphia, only one of which was active at the time the film was shot. The film examines the growth and decline of the Jewish population in south Philadelphia and the corresponding closures of synagogues and Jewish businesses. By L. Pardue
© 2006 SAGE Publications
Neither Fight Nor Flight
Urban Synagogues in Postwar Philadelphia
University of Victoria
This article uses case studies of two Philadelphia synagogues to argue that postwar cities remained places of opportunity for creative local institutions and that the geographic flexibility of synagogues did not necessarily entail flight from declining urban areas. After their North Philadelphia Jewish residential enclave dissipated, Mikveh Israel and Rodeph Shalom recast the meaning of community and membership to accommodate their dispersed congregations. Rather than remaining neighborhood synagogues, Mikveh Israel and Rodeph Shalom connected members dispersed across the metropolitan area who were committed to preserving their religious institutions at the center of the city. Postwar Jewish community at these two synagogues developed metropolitan contours.
Key Words: Jewish • synagogues • North Philadelphia • urban decline • geography