The Architectural Dialogue between the St. Petersburg Jewish Community and the Tsarist Metropolis
In this lecture, Dr. Vladimir Levin will consider the uneasy relationship between the architectural oeuvre of the Jewish community and the capital city of the Russian Empire. Although concentrating on St. Petersburg, the talk will address questions and problems that many Jewish communities in European and American cities had to wrangle with. Every Jewish community that settled in a large or small city had to decide how to represent itself vis-à-vis that city, how prominent and visible should their representation should be; what are the ways to express Jewishness in the general cityscape and which means should be employed toward achieving this goal. The lecture will discuss how the Jews of St. Petersburg and their non-Jewish allies looked for a style that was best suited for marking their presence in the city, and how a unique convergence of architecture and manuscript illuminations was created to that end.
About the Speaker
Dr. Vladimir Levin is the Director of the Center for Jewish Art at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Born in St. Petersburg, he holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University. He authored From Revolution to War: Jewish Politics in Russia, 1907-1914 (in Hebrew, 2016) and co-edited Synagogues in Lithuania: A Catalogue (2010-2012). In 2017 he co-authored with Sergey Kravtsov the book Synagogue in Ukraine: Volhynia, and currently works on the book of Jewish heritage in Siberia with Anna Berezin. He also published 120 articles and essays about social and political aspects of modern Jewish history in Eastern Europe, synagogue architecture and ritual objects, Jewish religious Orthodoxy, Jewish-Muslim relations, Jews and Jewish politics in Lithuania, Russian architecture in the Holy Land, history of East-European Jewish communities etc.
Dr. Levin headed numerous research expeditions to documents synagogues and other monuments of Jewish material culture in eastern and central Europe and lead several research projects in the field of Jewish Art, the most important of which is the creation of the Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art – the world’s largest digital depository of Jewish heritage.