Synagogues

The Nozyk Synagogue, Warsaw, Poland

Haim Ghiuzeli

The Nozyk synagogue, the only surviving synagogue from pre-Holocaust years in the Polish capital city is located at 6 Twarda Street in downtown Warsaw. The synagogue was founded by Zelman ben Menashe Nozyk, a wealthy textile merchant, and his wife Rivka (bat Moshe), a childless couple who decided to will their fortune in support of the establishment of a new synagogue in Warsaw. A committee in charge with the building of the synagogue was formed in the early 1890's. Besides Z. Nozyk, the committee included other distinguished members of the Jewish community in Warsaw: Isaak Ettinger,...

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The Westville Synagogue in New Haven

Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol - B'nai Israel, the Westville Synagogue, New Haven, Connecticut


 


Built in 1958 as the Westville Synagogue, the congregation merged in 1962 with the congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagodol and then merged in 1974 with the "B'nai Israel" synagogue congregation.
 

It is the largest Modern Orthodox synagogue in New Haven, Connecticut. A modern style stone and glass structure featuring in its facade a seven-branched Menorah. As a result of the expansion of the congregation activities and...

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The Great City Synagogue of Vilna

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The Great City Synagogue of Vilna was built of stone from 1630 to 1633, after permission was given to build a stone structure to replace the Old Synagogue. In 1635 the synagogue was pelted with stones by rioters, the interior was destroyed and all it contained was looted.


It was rebuilt in Renaissance-Baroque style in the schulhof, and in the course of time it was surrounded by a complex of some twenty synagogues, among them an old wooden 15th century synagogue, rebuilt between the 18th and 19th century, prayer-houses of the artisans’ guilds, a beth-midrash, a mikveh,...

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The Stadttempel Synagogue, Vienna

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Jewish community of Vienna was granted permission to build the synagogue under the condition that the building would not be seen from the street.
In the years 1824-26 a monumental and splendid synagogue was built in Seitenstettengasse in a Neo-Classical style designed by the architect J. Kornhausel. For the consecration ceremony, held on 9th April , 1826, cantor Solomon Sulzer performed a musical arrangement for Psalms 92 written by the composer Franz Schubert.


The synagogue building was considered at the time as one of...

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The Georgian Synagogue in Tbilisi

The Georgian Synagogue is also known as the Great Synagogue. It was founded by Jews from Akhalzikhe, who settled in Tbilisi in the late 19th century, hence its second name, “synagogue of the people of Akhalzikhe”. Adjoining the synagogue was another prayer house founded by the Jews of Tshinvali.


The synagogue was built with bricks, in an eclectic style, between 1895 and 1903 and surmounted by a dome and a lantern. The two-story structure measures 24.5 m (length) x 15 m (width) x 14 m (height) and contains two prayer halls. The main gate of the synagogue is...

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The Monastir Synagogue in Salonika

The Monastir Synagogue in Salonika was built by Jews from Monastir (a town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, near the Greek border) between 1925-27 and was designed by the Jewish architect A. Levy.


The two-storey structure includes an impressive façade in a combination of styles with a two column arcade leading to the main entrance. The top of the façade is decorated with Stars of David.


The central hall is surrounded by additional halls and rooms. The Bimah is located on the east side and facing it is the two storey Aron Kodesh...

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The Great Synagogue of Stockholm

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The largest and the oldest of the three synagogues of Stockholm, the Great Synagogue (Stora Synagogan, in Swedish) is located in the city center, close to Berzeli Park and not far away from Gamla Stan (the Old town of Stockholm). The Great Synagogue was inaugurated in 1870, the same year when the last restrictions on the legal status of Jews living in Sweden were abolished and they were finally granted full emancipation. The Great Synagogue replaced an earlier synagogue that was established in Stockholm in 1795. Ever since its inauguration, the Great Synagogue of Stockholm has served as...

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The Synagogue of Riga, Latvia

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The only functioning synagogue in Riga, Latvia, is located on Peitavas street, after which it has been long known as the Peitavas street Synagogue or the Peitav-shul, also sometimes called Di Shtat Shul - the City Synagogue, in Yiddish.


The synagogue was built in 1905 with the help of a donation by the industrialist Ulrich Milman according to the plans of the H. Silverlich & Neuman architects office. The Peitavas synagogue was one of the about forty synagogues that functioned in Riga before the Holocaust serving the forty thousand strong Jewish local community. It is a...

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The Tempio Israelitico, Rome

The Tempio Israelitico is situated at Lungotevere Cenci in Rome. The monument was built in an eclectic mixed style (Roman, Greek, Assyro-Babylonian) in 1904 by the Roman architects Armanni and Costa. The impressive square domed synagogue can be seen across the Tiber, which flows past the south front of the synagogue.
 

The building is a monumental and massive structure built on a Greek cross plan. In the facade, the two-storey vestibule with a four column portico surmounts a gable featuring in its center, the Tablets of the Law and on top of them, the menorah. At the...

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The Remuh Synagogue of Krakow, Poland

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The Remuh Synagogue is named after Rabbi Moshe Isserles (c.1525-1572), known by the Hebrew acronym REMA (pronounced REMU in Yiddish), the famous author of Ha-Mappah (literally "The Tablecloth"), a collection of commentaries and additions that complement Rabbi Josef Caro's Shulhan Arukh with Ashkenazi traditions and customs. According to one popular tradition, Israel (Isserl) ben Josef, the grandson son of Moshe Auerbach of Regensburg founded the synagogue in honor of his son Moshe Isserles, who already in his youth was famed for his erudition. Following other tradition, the synagogue...

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The Old Synagogue, Odessa

This synagogue was built probably by the beginning of the 20th century. Located at 21 Osipova Street is one of the two remaining synagogue in use in Odessa today. The elongated structure was damaged by a fire in 1971. The southern facade has a main entrance gate with five round arched windows.


White painted walls and crystal chandeliers decorate the main prayer hall. In the center of the hall stands a wooden Bimah facing a two-story structure Holy Ark with a round arch. In the north side of the hall, there is a women's gallery with round arched windows.

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The New Melbourne Synagogue

The New Melbourne Synagogue was completed at Toorak Road in 1930. The synagogue belongs to the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation - Shearith Israel, established in 1841 and composed originally by European Jewish immigrants.


In its earliest years its members were very active endeavors around the congregation and had a flourishing youth group, enthusiastic ladies auxiliary and a large religious school.
 

The synagogue building is classical in style and was inspired by a very similar building in Richmond, Virginia in the U.S.A. and linked in many ways to the...

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The Synagogue of Novi Sad, Serbia

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The city of Novi Sad (also known as Újvidék in Hungarian, and Neusatz in German) is located on the banks of the Danube River in the district of Backa (until 1918 the Hungarian county of Bacs-Bodrog), within the autonomous region of Vojvodina, in northern Serbia (formerly in Yugoslavia).
The Jewish community of Novi Sad was allowed to build its first synagogue in the early 18th century. This first synagogue building was followed by three others that were erected one after another and served the local community during the 18th and the 19th centuries.

 

With the...

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The Great Synagogue of Lutsk, Ukraine

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

Lutsk (sometimes spelt as Lutzk or Luc'k, also known as Łuck, in Polish) is the main city of the historic region of Volhyn, (Volhynia), now in the western Ukraine. One of the ancient cities of Ukraine, Lutsk is mentioned as the capital of an independent principality as early as the last decades of the 11th century. Lutsk was under Lithuanian rule in the 14th century and later on it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland. In 1569 Lutsk became the capital city of the Volhynia Voivodship (Wojewodztwo) within the Kingdom of Poland. The beginnings of the Jewish settlement in Lutsk can...

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Neveh Shalom Synagogue, Paramaribo, Surinam

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The Neveh Shalom Synagogue of Paramaribo was founded on Keizerstraat in 1716 and inaugurated in 1723. It was a wooden structure erected under the guidance of master carpenter Abraham van Edam (c.1675-1724). The original building underwent a series of renovations, most notably in 1780 when it was enlarged for accommodating a total of 200 seating places in the men’s section. The synagogue was completely rebuilt from 1835 to 1842 according to the plans of the architect Jan Francois Halfhide and replaced the earlier building of the Neveh Shalom synagogue. The construction work started on...

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The Synagogue of Surabaya, Indonesia

The synagogue was established by the local Jews in 1939. It is the only synagogue in use today in Indonesia.


The one-storey rectangular building has a wooden entrance door on the west-side, a wooden Bimah decorated with stars of David on the east-side and in front of it, a wooden carved Ark. Regular windows are fixed in the outer walls of the building. The whole synagogue structure is very small and modest. It is maintained by a few Jewish families.

 


 

The...

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The Great Synagogue of Iasi, Romania

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The ancient capital of Moldavia, Iasi (also known as Jassy, in English) had a Jewish community already in the 16th century. For most of the 19th and the 20th century, the Jewish community of Iasi was the second largest in Romania; moreover, the percentage of the Jewish population of Iasi was the highest of any major city in Romania. At its peak around 1900, roughly half of the city's population was Jewish. At the time there were over one hundred synagogues and prayer houses in Iasi.
 

The Great Synagogue of Iasi is the oldest surviving Jewish prayer house in Romania. It...

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Beth Yaakov Synagogue, Geneva, Switzerland

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

Beth Yaakov Synagogue of Geneva, also known as the Grande Synagogue of Geneva or the Ashkenazi synagogue was opened in 1859 in a central location in Geneva that has since been known as Place de la Synagogue. Jews started settling in Geneva in early 19th century, however, it took them more than a generation to achieve full emancipation. It was only in 1857 that the government of Geneva cancelled a previous law that forbade Jews from owning land properties in the canton of Geneva. The building of a new synagogue in the city center by a Jewish community that at the time hardly numbered 200...

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Tempio Maggiore, the Great Synagogue of Florence, Italy

Recollections from the Synagogue in Florence, by Dr. Enzo Nitzani

 

The magnificent Great Synagogue in Florence, one of the most beautiful in Europe, was established thanks to the money donated by David Levi, a member of the local Jewish community. His legacy culminated a long fund-raising campaign started already in the 1840, following the opening and destruction of the Florentine ghetto. The synagogue, built according to the plans of architects Marco Treves, Mariano Falcini, and Vincenzo Micheli, winners of the competition published by the...

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The Great Synagogue of Tartu, Estonia

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

 

Tartu, also known as Dorpat, in German, and Yurev in Russian, is the second largest city and an old center of culture and learning of Estonia. There were very few Jews in Tartu before the middle years of the 19th century, when Estonia was already part of the Russian empire. The first place of worship for local Jews opened on Vathaus street only in 1872 and it was followed by a larger one located in a rented property near the local market. This second synagogue was opened in 1876 in the presence of all members of the Jewish community of Tartu.


The impressive...

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The Ibn Danan Synagogue, Fez, Morocco

One of the oldest and most important synagogues in North Africa. Originally built and owned by a prominent Moroccan Jewish family in the mid-seventeenth century and renovated in its present form at the end of the nineteenth century. The structure, located in the hearth of the mellah (Jewish quarter) is a rare survivor of a pivotal time in Moroccan Jewish history.
 

 

The synagogue, still privately owned, contains perhaps the only complete set of Moroccan synagogue fittings in existence, including the reader's wooden and wrought iron canopy platform - the...

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The Fasanenstrasse Synagogue, Berlin, Germany

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The growth of the Jewish population in what was known around 1900’s as the "New West" districts of Berlin, chiefly in the affluent district of Charlottenburg, from less than 5,000 inhabitants in 1885 to over 23,000 by 1910, brought about the need to erect a large synagogue. The land for the new synagogue was purchased in October 1905 for 600,000 Marks. Located at 79-80 Fasananenstrasse, between the fashionable Kurfurstendamm Avenue and the then newly extended rapid transit city train (S-bahn), the Fasanenstrasse synagogue was the first monumental Jewish prayer house to be opened outside...

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The Old Synagogue, Dubrovnik

The old synagogue of Dubrovnik is the oldest Sephardi synagogue in the world and the second oldest in Europe which is still in use today. The synagogue was built in the style of the Baroque synagogues of Italy in the 14th century, on the third floor of a narrow and oblong building in the Jewish street and quarter. The community’s offices are on the second floor. The inner decoration, in Baroque style, was completed in 1652, and has been preserved to the present day.


The partition, separating the women’s gallery, was added in the 18th century. In the partition...

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The Paradesi Synagogue in Cochin

The magnificent synagogue is named after the Paradesi (meaning “foreigners”) who are the “White Jews”: a mixture of Jewish exiles from Spain and Portugal.


It is the oldest synagogue built in the former British Empire and the only synagogue in use today out of the seven synagogues built in the “Jew Town”.


In 1568, the Rajah of Cochin, Paraja, gave a piece of land to the Jewish community next to his palace to build the synagogue. The synagogue houses 1600 year-old copper plates on which the community charter of...

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El Ghriba Synagogue, Djerba, Tunisia

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The El Ghriba synagogue is located in the formerly Jewish village of Harah Sghira, also known as Harah Srira (the "small village", in Arabic) (currently called Er-Riadh) on the Island of Djerba (also spelled Jerba), Tunisia. It is the most famous and venerated of the twenty synagogues and prayer houses that used to function in the three Jewish villages on Djerba at the height of the Jewish community in the early 1950's. In Harah Srira alone there are five additional prayer houses, called yeshivot, however, the Torah scrolls have been kept exclusively in El Ghriba, following a decision...

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The Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo

This famous synagogue in Fostat (Old Cairo) was called originally the synagogue of 'the men of Israel', built in the year 882 on the remains of the basilica of a Coptic church that had been sold to Jews. It became known as the Synagogue of Elijah the Prophet and also as the Ben Ezra Synagogue.


Large-scale festivities were held there after the festivals of Passover and Sukkoth (Tabernacles), when the synagogue was the goal of pilgrimages made from various parts of North Africa. Its remarkable wooden doors with 16 wood-carved panels probably dating from the 11th century...

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Shaar HaShamaim Synagogue, Belem

"Shaar Hashamaim" in Hebrew, "Porta do Ceu" in Portuguese or "Gate of Heaven" in English is the name of the first synagogue established by the Sephardi Jews who had immigrated from Morocco to Brazil in the 19th century. The blue and white two storied structure was built in Colonial style in 1824 by Judah Eliezer Levy. The impressive and monumental facade has three Stars of David in its front, and four main entrances which lead to the main prayer hall and the women's galleries. At the centre, the elevated and round Bimah is carved in marble with Stars of...

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"Mishkan", The Jewish Spirituality Center, Buenoa Aires

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

Mishkan – Centro de Espiritualidad Judía - The Jewish Spirituality Center of Buenos Aires was established at the initiative of Rabbi Reuben Nisenbom by a group of his followers and students. Mishkan is a liberal congregation that can be best described by the term "havura" ("brotherhood", in Hebrew). Although not a religious congregation in the general accepted meaning of the term, it fulfills many of the goals of a religious congregation as well as many community activities serving as a truly community center. Mishkan does not belong to the World Union for Progressive Judaism and nor is...

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The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street, Budapest

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street, also known as the Dohány Synagogue, or the Tabac-Schul, the Yiddish translation of dohány (tobacco), after the Hungarian name of the street, is located in Belváros, the inner city of Pest, in the eastern section of Budapest. It was built between 1854-1859 by the Neolog Jewish community of Pest according to the plans of the Viennese architect Ludwig Foerster. The synagogue neighbors a major Budapest thoroughfare expressing the optimism and the newly elevated status of the Hungarian Jews in the mid years of the 19th century.


It is a...

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"Beth Shalom', Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The Congregation Beth Sholom Conservative community was established in 1919 in the Logan neighborhood of Philadelphia. Following a move to the suburbs by many of its members, the community relocated its institutions to Elkins Park, PA, in 1950. It was in this new location in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia that the Community Center and the Philip L. Sheer Religious School were opened in the early 1950's. Other buildings were added later, including what was to become one of the most renowned synagogues in the United States.

 

The initiative for building a...

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Aleppo, Syria

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The Central Synagogue in Aleppo, Syria


There was a Jewish place of worship on the site of the Aleppo Synagogue since late Antiquity, perhaps from as early as the 5th century C.E. The oldest surviving inscription is from the year 834 C.E. These early buildings were damaged after the Mongol occupation of Aleppo during the 13th century and then turned into a mosque. The central synagogue was rebuilt at some point in the early 15th century. It had later on undergone a series of modifications until its destruction during the violent attacks against Jews by the local...

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The Choir of the Great Synagogue, Amsterdam

Anton Kras

 

The author manages the audio-visual collections of the library of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam.

 

Choirs had enhanced the services at Amsterdam’s Great Synagogue for many years, of course.

 

But when we talk about the “Choir of the Great Synagogue” what we mean is the group led by the celebrated choirmaster Samuel Henri (Sam) Englander between 1916 and 1942. Throughout these years the composition of the choir, a male double-quartet, hardly changed. This clearly helped Englander, known to have...

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The Ancient Synagogue of Sardis

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The ruins of the ancient city of Sardis (also spelled Sardes) lie near the modern village of Sart (also called Sartmahmut), about 10 kilometers west of the modern town of Sahlihli and some 70 kilometers east from Izmir (formerly Smyrna) in Western Anatolia (Asia Minor), now in Turkey. This former capital city of the antique Kingdom of Lydia (7th century BCE), is remembered today as the place where silver and gold coins were minted for the first time and as the city of the legendary rich king Croesus (560 – c.546 BCE). During its long history, Sardis changed many foreign rulers...

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"El Transito" Synagogue in Toledo, Spain

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The El Transito Synagogue in Toledo, Spain, was built by Samuel (Shmuel) Ben Meir Ha-Levi Abulafia (also spelled Al-Levi and Allavi) (c.1320-1360). Scion of an old Jewish family, Samuel Ha-Levi Abulafia was advisor and treasurer (tesorero real) to King Pedro I of Castile (1350-1369) (also known as Pedro the Cruel) from 1350. Samuel Ha-Levi Abulafia is remembered as the founder of a number of synagogues in the Kingdom of Castile, but the one constructed on the grounds of his palace in Toledo was by far the grandest. The entire complex was located inside the medieval Jewish quarter,...

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Rodfe Sedek Synagogue, Mexico city

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The Rodfe Sedek synagogue in Mexico City was established in 1931. It has since served the community of Jewish immigrants from the city of Aleppo, in northern Syria, and their descendants. During the first years of the 20th century, the Jews from Aleppo used to worship in a private house transformed in a synagogue - Sinagoga Ketana (Bet Haknesset HaKatan) located in Calles de Jesús María in Mexico City. In 1938 the Jewish immigrants from Aleppo set up Sociedad de beneficencia Sedaká u Marpé, a separate Jewish community in Mexico City that since 1984 has been known as Comunidad Maguen...

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The Great Synagogue in Bordeaux

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The building of the Great Synagogue of Bordeaux was inaugurated on September 5, 1882 – 21 Elul, in the presence of the Great Rabbi of France Lazard Isidore (1813-1888), Oury, the rabbi of Toulouse, and the chief rabbi of Bordeaux, Simon Levy. This new building replaced an earlier synagogue that functioned on Causserouge street, within the old Jewish quarter of Bordeaux, from 1812 until June 27, 1873, when it was destroyed in a fire. The Jewish community of Bordeaux decided immediately to build a new edifice; however, the narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter were judged inappropriate...

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The Tikvath Israel Synagogue, Cape Town

Tikvat Israel in Hebrew or "Hope of Israel" in English, is a reference to the Cape of Good Hope. It was also known as The Old Synagogue and The Gardens Synagogue because it was erected in the Gardens district of Cape Town where there are a number of important public institutions including the Public Library, the National Museum, the President's Residence and the Parliament.

 

The Tikvat Israel Synagogue was the first synagogue established in South Africa by the Cape Town Hebrew Congregation. The synagogue was built in the Neo-classical style in 1849 and...

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The Ohel Leah Synagogue, Hong Kong

by Erica Lyons

The construction of Ohel Leah Synagogue (OLS) began with the laying of the foundation stone on 7 August 1901 by Abraham Jacob Raymond in a project initiated by the Sassoon brothers, Jacob, Edward and Myer. The initial structure was completed in early 1902 and named to commemorate the Sasson brothers’ mother Leah. It was built in colonial style and incorporated elements from the Edwardian free classical-style. The exterior is flanked by two impressive octagonal towers. The interior of the synagogue was based on a simple rectangular basilica plan with a relatively open floor...

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Bevis Marks Synagogue, London

London's oldest surviving synagogue was built in 1699-1701. It was built in a lane because Jews were not allowed to erect the synagogue in a public street.

 

The building has not changed since then. The one-storey red brick structure is modest from the outside. The interior is elegant and has smooth plaster walls decorated with rosettes from some of which hang chandeliers. On the west side, stands the wooden bimah. On the east side, the two-storey wooden ark structure surmounted by the Tablets of the Law is located. Both elements are influenced by the ark and bimah...

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The Synagogue of Tomar, Portugal

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

Tomar (formerly spelled Thomar) is a small, historic town in central Portugal, about 145 km north east of Lisbon, best known for the remnants of an impressive Templar fortress and a superb monastery that attract many visitors. Less well known is the synagogue of Tomar, the oldest extant Jewish prayer house in Portugal.


There seems to have been a Jewish settlement in Tomar already during the early 14th century, as suggested by an inscription on a gravestone mentioning a rabbi Josef of Tomar who died in Faro, in southern Portugal, in 1315. An official Spanish document...

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The Dawna Synagogue in Zamosc

Haim F. Ghiuzeli

The first synagogue in Zamosc was built in the 1590's as a wooden structure. The building of a brick edifice in accordance with the privileges granted to the local Jewish community was undertaken after 1610 and continued for eight years. The Dawna (“Old”) synagogue is a prominent example of late Renaissance Polish style in harmony with the general urban design of the old town of Zamosc. The exterior walls have been extended to conceal the roof giving the building a general aspect of a fortress. The prayer hall (11,6 x 12,2 m.) represents the core of the building; the women's...

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