The Prophetic Quest

The Stained Glass Windows of Jacob Landau, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

By (author) David S. Herrstrom, Andrew D. Scrimgeour

Hardback - £27.95

Publication date:

14 April 2021

Length of book:

144 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271087818

Some of the most breathtaking art in America lies behind doors that few ever open. One such masterpiece is The Prophetic Quest, a series of ten monumental stained glass windows in the Keneseth Israel synagogue, just north of Philadelphia. This informative and exquisitely illustrated volume pulls back the curtain on this little-known work of art.

Designed by the renowned American artist Jacob Landau, The Prophetic Quest encompasses ten masterful abstract pieces of stained glass that depict the lives and words of the biblical prophets, each towering nearly twenty-five feet high and spanning five feet across. Featuring essays recounting Landau’s vision, the history of his project, and detailed interpretive commentary on each window, this book presents an immersive experience of Landau’s religious masterwork. Personal reflections written by artists, art historians, poets, clergy, and congregants about their experience of The Prophetic Quest round out the volume with new ways to view and appreciate Landau’s creation.

Gorgeously illustrated, this book sheds light on American synagogue art and the history of stained glass in America, and it cements Landau’s reputation as one of the leading American protest artists.

The volume features essays by the editors as well as Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Rita Rosen Poley, and Lance J. Sussman, along with additional reflections from fifteen other contributors and the photography of Tom Crane.

“An important contribution to our knowledge and understanding of Jewish life in Pennsylvania and religious life more broadly. The Prophetic Quest brings attention to hitherto unknown items that themselves carry artistic, historic, and religious significance.”

—Dianne Ashton, author of Hanukkah in America: A History