This past week, the MTA Honors College had the unique opportunity to be addressed by Akiva Ennis (YUHSB ‘10), a University of Pennsylvania senior and MTA alum, on the topic of “Synagogues in the Diaspora.” The lecture, based on his senior thesis, was an insightful look into the architectural development of the shul. Ennis proposed that ancient synagogues developed in three stages. First, they were locations that were combined with study halls, containing no aron or other features which one normally associates with shuls today. The second phase was more specific, however, as synagogues were more often than not built out of other preexisting structures such as homes. The third stage was when synagogues became distinct and recognizable structures using architecture reflecting the culture of the nation in which it was housed. The lecture was emblematic of MTA’s emphasis on Torah Umadda and, indeed, the boys greatly enjoyed this fascinating synthesis of architecture and minyan.
By Yehuda Goldberg