Cover image for A rabbi and his dream : building the Brotherhood Synagogue : a memoir
A rabbi and his dream : building the Brotherhood Synagogue : a memoir
Block, Irving J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, NJ : KTAV Pub. House, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 362 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BM755.B594 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Rabbi Block founded the Brotherhood Synagogue in New York's Greenwich Village in 1954. For almost 20 years it shared a building with a Presbyterian congregation in a so-called Covenant of Brotherhood, certainly a unique experiment in ecumenism. This partnership ended in 1973, when a new minister was not receptive to his predecessor's philosophy; the synagogue found a new home in a former Quaker meetinghouse in Gramercy Park. Block, who retired in 1994 after serving 40 years as a rabbi, begins his memoir describing the months he spent in Palestine in 1947 and 1948: he worked in two kibbutzim and joined the Haganah in Israel's War of Independence. In the following chapters, Block discusses his childhood, Hebrew and secular education, rabbinical school training, the founding of the synagogue, the partnership with a congregation of another faith, the dissolution of that partnership, and the pioneering programs and activities. His book is a message of hope by a most visionary Jew. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Retired rabbi Block recounts his often stormy 42 years in the rabbinate in this spirited autobiography. He founded the Brotherhood Synagogue in Greenwich Village, which shared facilities with a Presbyterian church. The congregations worked in singular harmony, reflecting Block's long-standing belief in interfaith collaboration. During his years as a rabbi for the Village Temple, the predecessor of the Brotherhood Synagogue, his ideas about religious unity and ecumenical cooperation were severely tested when the synagogue board insisted on moving out of these shared quarters. Although they did not move then, 20 years later when a minister hostile to Judaism took over the Presbyterian church, Block and his congregation were finally forced to move. The synagogue relocated to a building vacated by Quakers who had merged with another congregation. Block relates with humor and candor the differences of opinion that arose between he and the synagogue board, as well as the difficulties presented by the move to new quarters. Those who believe in community among religious groups will find insight and inspiration in this fine memoir. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The Brotherhood Synagogue is a liberal-traditional Jewish congregation in the heart of New Yorks Greenwich Village. Founded by the author in 1954, this unique congregation shared a building with a Presbyterian congregation for over 20 years and became a pioneering venture in ecumenism. Rabbi Block does not mince words as he outlines his struggles and successes in creating a living example of positive Christian-Jewish relations and his ability to make these activities visible to the local, regional, and national religious communities. In telling his story, Block introduces us to the complexity of managing a congregation and the challenges of meeting the demands made on both the Jewish and Presbyterian congregational leadership. Unfortunately, the stiff prose and mechanical recitation of names and events does not communicate Blocks obvious vitality and innovative spirit in reaching a wide range of people, including the homeless, disabled, and retarded. Recommended only for specialized collections.Olga B. Wise, Compaq Computers Inc., Austin, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.