Medieval Mikveh (Ritual Bath)

It was in 1984, during the refurbishment of a block of houses at number 20 rue des Charpentiers, near the cathedral, that the remains of a mikveh (ritual bath) were discovered, the last witness to the intense life of Judaism in medieval Strasbourg.
Present in Alsace since antiquity, the Jews were expelled from Strasbourg during the pogrom of 1349 and saw their places of worship being closed or destroyed.
Of this bath used for the ritual purification of women and certain pious men, a small, almost square cellar of about 9 m² remains, with a basin in the center that can hold up to 500 liters of water directly from the groundwater, to which hot water was added. The walls had niches for candles, and a small adjoining room served as a checkroom.

Ashkenazi Synagogue

The synagogue of Jews of Europe and Georgia, located at Baku, was opened on March 9, 2003. The temple was built based on a project by architect Alexander Karberin. This place of worship is considered to be the first synagogue built in the Near East in 60-80 years. This building, considered to be one of the largest synagogues in Europe, was erected on the place of an old temple. After World War II, Soviet Power gave a single floor building with ancient military warehouses to Georgian and European Jews for their religious needs. Men were praying in the cold and damp basement of the building, which women were praying in the praying in the upper room and the balcony.

The new building of the synagogue has three floors, and is very comfortable for praying and carrying out other religious rituals. People from different religions and classes contributed to the synagogue’s construction. The name of each person and organization that helped the project is engraved on boards at the entrance of the temple. Not only Jewish organizations living abroad, but also Caucasian Muslims Office and the Baku and Russian Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan have helped to finance the construction.

Minsk Central Yeshiva

The former Central Yeshiva was an educational center for the Jewish population of Minsk, where every young person was given the opportunity to study Torah. It was built and opened in 1888, and there more than 160 rabbis were educated annually. Thanks to yeshivas, the religious culture of the Jews was preserved on the territory of Belarus.

Zaltzman Synagogue

Zaltsman synagogue was built in 1864, when the population of Minsk consisted of more than 40% Jews. Numerous synagogues in the city were divided according to religious trends or even according to the professional affiliation of the community. This prayer house was built on the territory of the Rakovsky suburb for the poor.

Image credit: The Together Plan – subject to copyright ©

Minsk Ghetto

250 ghettos were created on the territory of Belarus. In the largest – the Minsk ghetto – more than 100 thousand people died. It was created in August 1941 and became one of the largest in Europe, ranking second in terms of the number of prisoners after the Lvov ghetto. On several streets wrapped with barbed wire, there were at first 80 thousand, and then more than 100 thousand prisoners.

Image credit: Adam Jones, Ph.D. / Global Photo Archive / Flickr

Jewish Cultural Quarter

The Jewish Cultural Quarter consists of the Jewish Historical Museum, the JHM Children’s Museum, the Portuguese Synagogue, the Hollandsche Schouwburg, and the National Holocaust Museum.

The Jewish Cultural Quarter invites its visitors to acquaint themselves with Jewish culture and history, to deepen their existing knowledge, and to think actively about the subject of cultural diversity. The basic principle is to make the Jewish story accessible in a positive way to as much of the general public as possible.

Jewish Quarters

Although its first Jewish quarter was in the district of Elgacena, it was abandoned centuries ago and it is believed that its old synagogue was in what is now the Church of Santa María Jus del Castillo. As the years went by, the Jewish presence became more important and the new Jewish quarter was created next to the walls of Belmecher Castle. The Estella-Lizarra Jewish quarter was the third most important in the Kingdom of Navarre.

Today the buildings which made up the new Estella Jewish Quarter are no longer visible. The only visible part of the Jewish Quarter is the wall which defended it. It is a 300 m long stretch built from white limestone. The remains of a tower can be seen with two defensive walls alongside a gate which opens providing access to the former Jewish quarter. It is recommended to take a walk along the wall and imagine what life was like in one of the most influential Jewish communities of the Kingdom of Navarre.

While most of the Jewish quarter is no longer visible recently their has been major archaeological breakthroughs and progress inside the district which allowed for the reconstruction of some of the major buildings in the quarter.

Jewish Quarter

The “Sephardic Jerusalem” is known around the world for the beauty of its synagogues and its Jewish quarter. The memory of the community has remained vivid in Toledo; historians have from the thirteenth and fourteenth century onward been able to supply fairly precise information about the location and history of the city’s Jewish community. Toledo is a city of great historical and artistic importance and is listed here as a World Heritage Site.

At the time of its greatest splendor, just before 1391, Toledo had ten synagogues and five to seven yeshivot. In 1492 there were five grand synagogues, two of which survive: the Tránsito, now the Sephardic Museum, and Santa María la Blanca.

The quarter can be reached through a gate. One of the many entrances is the gate Puerta de Assulca, which has in its vicinity in flea market where oil, butter, chickpeas, lentils and everything necessary for daily life are sold.

Then it enters the streets, adarves (dead-end streets) and squares of the quarter. The main street is called Calle del Mármol and connects the Jewish quarter with the rest of the city.

There is a market, places to pray, public baths, bread ovens, palaces and a wall. Near the Tagus river is the neighborhood Barrio del Degolladero, so named because here was the designated place for the ritual slaughter (shechitah) of beef-cattle.

In the neighborhood Barrio de Hamazelt the richest Jewish families lived and in the street known today as San Juan de Dios, lived the best known Jew of Toledo: Samuel ha-Levi. He was the treasurer of the king Peter of Castile and ordered the building of a big synagogue, that later was known as the “Synagogue of el Tránsito”. And as in all the Jewish houses, features a mezuzah containing passages from Deuteronomy affixed to its door-post.

Two Jewish places of worship are preserved today (both as museums), Santa María la Blanca (formerly the Synagogue of Ibn Shushan) and El Tránsito. In a bygone age, every Friday before sunset, a rabbi sounded the shofar (a goat’s horn) three times announcing the arrival of the Sabbath.


Jewish Quarters

The county town of Besalú constitutes a unique Jewish heritage site in Catalonia, with a 12th century mikveh (Jewish bath) and the remains of a 13th century synagogue. In 1966 Besalú was declared a national historic-artistic site. Since then, many finds have been made and much work has been done towards recovering this heritage. With its twisting mediaeval streets adapted to the city’s orography, arches, steps, stone houses, the superb Romanesque bridge leading to the town center over the waters of the Fluvià Besalú still retains the charm of mediaeval times.

The presence of Jews in Besalú is attested in a document from 1229 in which Jaume I the Conqueror gave them the roles of moneylenders. In 1342 the Jewish community, connected to the one in Barcelona, and became independent. In those days it they 200, a quarter of the total population in the town, and lived side by side with the Christian population.


Jewish Quarters

The old Jewish quarter of Barcelona, located in the city’s Gothic quarter. Although few vestiges remain, in the Centre d’Interpretació del Call visitors can get a good idea of what life was like for the Jewish community of Barcelona during the Middle Ages.

The Call or Jewish Quarter forms part of what is now the Gothic Quarter. It was one of the city’s centres of culture in the Middle Ages and home to two synagogues. One of them, the Sinagoga Major, is one of Europe’s oldest, as it is believed to date back to the 6th century.

The Jewish Quarter was home to schools, baths and hospitals, but now only a few houses are left standing. It was surrounded by two city walls on the limits of the old Roman settlement. The Jews, however, did not close themselves off from the rest of city as they had houses and workshops outside of these city walls. In the early 13th century the population had grown so much that the Call Menor, the smaller Jewish quarter, was created. Now practically nothing remains of it.

The Call Major, the larger Jewish quarter, is home to the Sinagoga Major or Shlomo ben Aderet Synagogue, as it is also known, after the man who was the 13th-century leader of Catalan Judaism, the Rabbi of Barcelona and a banker to kings like James I (the Conqueror). It was the centre of Jewish life in the city until the start of the attacks on the community, the most serious of which, in 1391, ended with the death of 300 Jews. In the following years Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were destroyed and Jews were forced to convert to Christianity. Due to the expulsion decreed by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, the quarter fell into decline and its buildings were converted. The Sinagoga Major became a dye works and the Sinagoga Menor was transformed into a Trinitarian convent, of which today only the parish church on Carrer de Ferran dedicated to Saint James remains.