Jewish Country Houses

Juliet Carey and Abigail Green, photography by Hélène Binet

An exploration of the world of Jewish country houses, their architecture and collections, and the lives of the extraordinary men and women who created, transformed and shaped them. 

The book cover of Jewish Country Houses depicting an ascending staircase.Country houses are powerful symbols of national identity, evoking the glamorous world of the landowning aristocracy. Jewish country houses—properties that were owned, built, or renewed by Jews—tell a more complex story of prejudice and integration, difference and connection. Many had spectacular art collections and gardens. Some were stages for lavish entertaining, while others inspired the European avant-garde. A few are now museums of international importance, many more are hidden treasures, and all were beloved homes that bear witness to the remarkable achievements of newly emancipated Jews across Europe—and to a dream of belonging that mostly came to a brutal end with the Holocaust.

Lavishly illustrated with historical images and a new body of work by the celebrated photographer Hélène Binet, this book is the first to tell their story, from the playful historicism of the National Trust’s Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire to the modernist masterpiece that is the Villa Tugendhat in the Czech city of Brno—and across the pond to the United States—where American Jews infused the European country house tradition with their own distinctive concerns and experiences. This book emerges from a four-year research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council that aims to establish Jewish country houses as a focus for research, a site of European memory, and a significant aspect of European Jewish heritage and material culture.

About the Authors

Juliet Carey is senior curator at Waddesdon Manor, UK.

Abigail Green is an Oxford historian and author of the award-winning Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero.

Hélène Binet has been described by Daniel Liebeskind as “one of the leading architectural photographers of the world."

The Martial Knot

Noa Shashar

A long overdue study of agunot based on exhaustive research in rabbinic sources, memoirs, and communal records. 

Art by Andi ArnowitzNoa Shashar sheds light on Jewish family life in the early modern era and on the activity of rabbis whose Jewish legal rulings determined the fate of agunot, literally “chained women,” who were often considered a marginal group. Who were these men and women? How did Jewish society deal with the danger of a woman’s becoming an agunah? What kind of reality was imposed on women who found themselves agunot, and what could they do to extricate themselves from their plight? How did rabbinic decisors discharge their task during this period, and what were the outcomes given the fact that the agunot were dependent on the male rabbinic establishment?

This study describes the lives of agunot, and by reexamining the halakhic activity concerning agunot in this period, proposes a new assessment of the attitude that decisors displayed toward the freeing of agunot.

About the Author

Noa Shashar is a lecturer at the Sapir Academic College in Israel. She is the author of several books, including Vanished Men: Agunot in the Ashkenazi realm 1648-1850 (Hebrew), Not on Bread Alone: The Krell Murachovski Family Histories, and Mazkeret Rishonim: A History of the Levin and Miller Families from Mazkeret Batya & Rishon Lezion