Maghen David Synagogue


Magen David (or the “Shield of David”) Synagogue is located at the junction of Brabourne Road and Canning Street (Biplabi Rashbehari Road) in Kolkata. Magen David is the second operating synagogue in Kolkata, the being the Beth El Synagogue at Pollock Street. The synagogue was built in 1884 by Elias David Ezra in memory of his father David Joseph Ezra, who made his fortune in the real estate trade of Kolkata. Elias David Joseph Ezra is associated with some of the well known buildings of Kolkata including Esplanade Mansion, Ezra Mansion and Chowringhee Mansion. Ezra Street is also named after him.

The synagogue is built in the Italian Renaissance style with a brick red finish. The entrance to the synagogue compound is hidden behind makeshift stalls selling hairclips and other trinkets. The Magen David Synagogue is approached through an arched door, containing the hexagonal “Star of David” and Hebrew inscription. The two side walls contains memorial plaques dedicated to the well known Jews of Calcutta (Kolkata). Although the services of the Magen David Synagogue have long stopped, the interior is astonishingly well maintained. The chequered marble floor, gleaming chandeliers, stained glass windows and ornate floral pillars shipped from Paris enhance its Continental look. The ark of the Magen David Synagogue is set into the walls of an apse. The star-studded half dome of the apse represents the heavens.

The large plaque above the middle section of the ark contains the Ten Commandments. It also contains several other Hebrew inscription along with several other items of Jewish Iconography, including the seven branched lamp stand of the menorah. High above the wall opposite the ark is a beautiful stained glass rose window. At the centre of the hall is the bimah, the raised platform from which the Torah was read. Two sets of stairs from either side of the hall lead to the upper balconies, reserved for women.