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Rodef Shalom Temple

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1906–1907, Henry Hornbostel for Palmer and Hornbostel; 1989 renovation, The Ehrenkrantz Group and Eckstut. 4905 5th Ave., Shadyside
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)

This synagogue is the best of Hornbostel's three religious structures in Pittsburgh—the other two are Smithfield United Church (1925–1926; 620 Smithfield Street) and the former B'Nai Israel Synagogue (1923–1924; 327 N. Negley Avenue). The congregation, which dates from 1856, used a synagogue in downtown Pittsburgh until it was attracted by the amenities of Oakland, coincidentally the same year that the neighboring St. Paul Cathedral relocated (AL36). The cream-colored brick structure has a square plan that culminates in a large squared dome of green tiles and glazed terra-cotta ornament. The synagogue's compact massing and bright coloring are reminiscent of Byzantine structures, which were popular precedents for synagogues at the time.

The interior, as expected from the exterior massing, is a huge, undivided volume underneath the Guastavino-tiled dome of light-colored herringbone tiles, which has an octagonal skylight. Stenciled color, gilded wood chandeliers, and oak paneling highlighted in gold leaf enrich the interior. A restoration in 1989 reversed water damage and improved the poor acoustics that had become an accepted but unloved attribute of the building.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.



  • 1906

  • 1989


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Rodef Shalom Temple", [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 119-119.

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