×
FREE ASSISTANCE FOR THE INQUISITIVE PEOPLE
Tutorial Topics
X
softetechnologies
Rykestrasse Synagogue, Berlin, Germany
Hurva Synagogue, Jerusalem, Israel - Famous Synagogues
121    Dibyendu Banerjee    31/05/2024

Located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, the Hurva Synagogue, which literally stands for the Ruin Synagogue, is a testament to the perseverance of the Jewish community in Jerusalem and a well-executed replica of the 19th-century structure. The synagogue was originally founded in the early 18th century by the followers of Yehuda HeHasid or Judah the Pious, a leader of the Chassidei Ashkenaz, a movement of Jewish mysticism in Germany, on the ruins of an old 15th century synagogue, which the Ottoman Turks destroyed a few years later in 1721, for their unpaid loans.

softetechnologies

The site remained in ruins and desolate for around 116 years, until it was resettled in 1837 by the members of the Ashkenazi Jewish community, known as the Perushim, the Jewish disciples of Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, also known as the Vilnsa Gaon. Eventually, the Perushim rebuilt the synagogue in 1864 and although it retained its name as the Hurva Synagogue, officially it was named the Beit Yaakov Synagogue or House of Jacob, after Jacob Rothschild, whose family donated a hefty sum of money towards the construction the synagogue.

hurva synagogue jerusalem israel
Reconstruction of a Menorah, a seven-branched candle holder, next to the Hurva Synagogue

The synagogue served as Jerusalem’s central Ashkenazi sanctuary until it was destroyed by the Arab Legion during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, followed by the Israeli Declaration of Independence at midnight on 14 May 1948. After Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, a number of plans were submitted for the selection of a design of a new building for the synagogue, while an arch was built in 1977, as a memorial in remembrance of the destroyed Jewish Quarter. Finally, the reconstructed Hurva Synagogue, built to evoke its neo-Byzantine 19th century phase, was completed and officially opened on 15 March 2010 in the presence of Israeli politicians and chief rabbis.

hurva synagogue jerusalem israel
The commemorative arch

However, following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when plans were raised for the construction of a new synagogue at the site as part of the overall rehabilitation of the Jewish Quarter, several notable political and religious figures supported the idea to rebuild the original synagogue, but the Jewish Quarter Development Company, in charge of the restoration of the Jewish Quarter, strongly opposed it.

softetechnologies

Because, the Israeli planners and architects with modern outlook, who were involved in developing the old city area, wanted the proposed building to reflect their modern Western identity, which the traditional people strongly felt did not appropriately match the Jewish Quarter's traditional aesthetic identity. Nevertheless, in the year 2000, after much deliberation, the Israeli government accepted the proposal of rebuilding the edifice as it was in its original 19th century architectural style and the Jerusalem architect Nahum Meltzer, who proposed rebuilding the synagogue in its original Ottoman format, was commissioned to restore the lost glory and rebuild the Hurva Synagogue the way it was.

hurva synagogue jerusalem israel

The entrance of the Hurva Synagogue was equipped with three iron gates, leading to the huge prayer hall, measuring around 52 feet (15.5 m) in length an 46 feet (14 m) in width, flooded with daylight from the long and elongated arched windows, reflecting off the white walls. Access to the galleries, reserved for the women, located along the three sides of the chapel, except the eastern side, was through the towers situated at the corners of the building. The wooden Torah ark, an ornate cabinet that enshrines the sacred Torah scrolls, was built with the capacity to house 50 Torah scrolls and was adorned with beautiful baroque woodcuts depicting flowers and birds. The podium of the cantor, who leads the congregation in song and prayer, was located to the right and in front of the ark, designed as a miniature version of the two-level Ark.

softetechnologies

Originally, the centre of the synagogue contained a high wooden bimah, an elevated platform used for Torah reading during services, which was later replaced with a flat platform covered with marble plates. While numerous crystal chandeliers hung from the dome, painted sky-blue and strewn with golden stars, the walls were adorned with pastel shaded murals, depicting Biblical scenes and religious motifs, like stars of David, Mount Sinai, the seven-branched candle holder, called the menorah and the Ten Commandments.

hurva synagogue jerusalem israel

Built in Byzantine Revival Architectural Style, with four huge pilasters at each corner and four dramatic stone arches on each face of the building supporting a large dome, the new edifice of the Hurva Synagogue, one of the tallest buildings in the Old City, now stands on the west side of Hurva Square with its original glory. The base of the magnificent dome, equipped with twelve elongated arched windows with stained glass, is provided with a circular balcony, surrounded by iron railing, offering a wonderful 360º view of a large part of the Old City to the visitors.

hurva synagogue jerusalem israel

Regarded as an emblem of Jerusalem and its Jewish heritage, the Hurva Synagogue, has been portrayed over the years in numerous paintings and referred to in literature and culture. Today, the basement level of the synagogue also houses a small museum, exhibiting several historical gems found while excavating the site for the new construction.

Rykestrasse Synagogue, Berlin, Germany
softetechnologies
Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
Enter New Comment
Comment History
No Comment Found Yet.
Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
God is in all men, but all men are not in God; that is why we suffer.
Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
3755
51.71
Today So Far
Total View (Lakh)
softetechnologies
26/05/2018     41743
01/01/2018     35913
28/06/2017     33955
25/06/2018     33203
02/08/2017     32306
06/07/2017     26716
01/08/2017     26706
15/05/2017     26325
14/07/2017     21730
21/04/2018     20623
softetechnologies