At the time of its founding (in 1973), the Yeshiva University Museum commissioned ten hand-made scale models of historic synagogues, ranging from a 3rd-century Syrian synagogue to the 19th-century Tempio Israelitico in Florence, Italy. The museum has put the miniatures on display once more—for the first time in almost 30 years. Diane Bolz writes:
The synagogues selected for the exhibition were chosen for their historical and architectural significance. Also important was the quality and availability of documentation essential to producing archaeologically and historically accurate reconstructions. In addition, the buildings had to exhibit . . . “a unifying idea”—a significant symbolic feature or specific architectural characteristic that distinguished that synagogue. . . .
The models are accompanied by an impressive array of original objects associated with each synagogue, including a bronze incense shovel from the era of the Second Temple that has links to the decorations in the [6th-century] Beit Alpha synagogue; a Torah scroll used in Amsterdam’s Spanish-Portuguese synagogue, which may date from before the time of the expulsion of Jews from Spain; and a large-scale brass Hanukkah lamp and silver Torah shield that echo the furnishings of the 17th-century Zabludow synagogue in Poland. Other artifacts, drawings, paintings, manuscripts, photographs, and maps . . . bring to life the cultures that produced these synagogues and the thematic elements that connect them.