December 11, 2012
In this masterful and ambitious book, Tobias Brinkmann has set a new standard for the writing of congregational histories. Sundays at Sinai does much more than trace the life of an important American synagogue through periods of innovation, decline, and revival, but demonstrates how the travails of this congregation reflects major tensions within American Jewish life. The author threads the history of the synagogue into a dense and colorful tapestry; he masterfully interweaves Sinai congregation into the histories of Chicago, mass migration, and American religious life. Thoughtfully composed and fluently written, the book offers a novel, nuanced and sophisticated reinterpretation of several key themes in American Jewish history, particularly central European Jewish immigration to the United States and the Americanization of Reform Judaism.