The Oratories of Via delle Oche

When the ghetto was abandoned, and the construction of the monumental temple began in the distant Mattonaia neighbourhood, part of the Jewish Community decided to nevertheless continue living in the centre of Florence. Thus in 1882 two synagogues were opened in a building owned by the community at 5, Via delle Oche. One of them belonged to the confraternity Mattir Asurim (literally “the imprisoned set free”), which had existed since the time of the ghetto, with the mission of freeing Jews who had been imprisoned for their debts. The synagogues of Via delle Oche existed until 1962 when the building was sold, and the furnishings were transferred to Israel. A decorative star motif – which belonged to the Mattir Asurim oratory and, before that, to an oratory in the old ghetto – is still visible in the floor of the oratory inside the Tempio Maggiore.

The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum set up on two floors inside the Synagogue completes and enriches the visit to the monumental Synagogue. It’s an amazing collection of ancient objects of Jewish Ceremonial Art, examples of the high artistic value of the Jewish Italian culture in the field of applied arts. The museum tour retraces the history of the Jews of Florence from the first settlements to the post-war reconstruction with the help of photographic panels, videos and documentary sources.
On the first floor of the museum you will find an extraordinary exhibition from the 1981, “Friends of the Jewish Museum of Florence” which offers an historic overview of the Jewish community in Florence. Thanks to a photographic collection of documents, you will discover the history of the old ghetto and its relationship with the rest of the city.
The second-floor is dedicated to the objects and the furnishings related to the most significant events in the Jewish life, family rituals and religious festivities. One room is in memory of the Holocaust and equipped for film projections. The public can access a computer area which is linked up with the main Jewish museums and centres around the world. The second floor of the museum has limited wheelchair access: upon exiting the lift, there is a slightly sloped platform, and two flights of steps (5 and 8 steps respectively) which can be used with a chairlift (which must be operated by a companion).

The Synagogue of Florence

The Synagogue of Florence is a great monumental building, a place of worship and integral part of the history of the city. The Synagogue was inaugurated in 1882, after the emancipation of Italian Jews and decentralized from the area of the old Jewish Ghetto which was demolished in the last decade of the 19th century. In the period in which Florence became the Capital City of the Kingdom of Italy, between 1865 and 1870, the Synagogue became a symbol of the acquired freedom characterized by its green copper dome and its façade. Inside you will feel a very impressive atmosphere typical of the oriental taste of the European monumental synagogues built in the late 19th century. Thanks to its monumental architecture, the Synagogue stands out and affirms the integration of the community within civil society, and the achievement of equal rights.

Ostia Antica Synagogue

The ruins of the Ostia synagogue, discovered in 1961, are a crucial piece of evidence, telling us as much about the Jewish presence in the region as they do about the most ancient Jewish diaspora organisation. The primitive section dates from the 1st century, when the port built by Emperor Claudius turned the city into a multi-ethnic trading centre. The building had many rooms, and was later renovated and enlarged, particularly in the 3rd and 4th centuries. The sanctuary was accessed through a vestibule with three entrances and an intermediate passageway with tall Corinthian columns. The tevah is thought to have been on the slightly curved wall at the back of the room; on the opposite side you can still see the 4th century apse which made up the Aron, framed by an aedicule originally with trabeated columns. Decorative bas-reliefs with traditional subjects are at the top of the projecting ledges are: the menorah, the shofar, and lulav.
Additional rooms in the space near the vestibule date from later transformations, including a kitchen with an oven and sunken compartments for provisions, and a large room with benches along the walls, perhaps used as guest quarters.

Ancient Synagogue of Trastevere

For a long time, Trastevere was the focal point of the Jewish community in Rome. Then, in the Middle Ages, it gradually shifted to the Sant’Angelo District, where the ghetto was later built.
The building at 14, Vicolo dell’Atleta is commonly identified as the site of the old medieval synagogue in the Trastevere area. The building has a brick façade with a wide two arched loggia, surmounted by a cornice with small arches resting on ledges. The column of the loggia bears an inscription in Hebrew with the name Nathan Hai. This might refer to Rabbi Nathan ben Jehiel, who is thought to have had a mikveh or ritual bath and a synagogue built in Trastevere in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. One of the best-known works by Rabbi Nathan ben Jehiel is his Sefer Ha‘Arukh (literally ordered [words]), a Talmudic dictionary of great importance within sacred literature.

Di Castro Synagogue

A new synagogue was built in 1914, a few years after the large Tempio Maggiore was opened. The aim was to cater for a Jewish population that by then lived throughout the city, having left the ghetto area after Emancipation, or having come from other Italian cities at the time.
The hall bears some of the synagogue features from the Emancipation especially as to the lay-out and various decorative elements.
The tevah and Aron are brought together in a single space, enclosed by a balustrade. They are at the end of the hall, in line with the entrance and facing pews in two parallel rows along the centre. The women’s gallery is above the entrance.
The Oratorio Di Castro also has furnishings which previously belonged to the Cinque Scole: the candelabra on the tevah, the ner tamid and the lamps hanging in front of the Aron are all from Scola Castigliana. The stained glass windows are modern and were made by Aldo Di Castro in 1991.
Since 1972 the basement rooms have housed an Ashkenazi rite synagogue, designed by architect Angelo Di Castro. The candelabra and the gilded wooden doors of the Aron are also from Scola Castigliana.

Spanish Temple – Tempio Spagnolo

A small Sephardic (Spanish) rite temple is in the basement of the Tempio Maggiore. This is a legacy of the ghetto’s Scole, where versions of this rite were observed. Originally located elsewhere, it was transferred here in 1932. The furnishings of the Cinque Scole restored and brought here In 1948.
The hall has an elongated rectangular shape and the bi-focal layout of the Ghetto Scole: the Aron and tevah face each other at the centre of opposite walls – in this case along the longer sides -, while the pews are arranged to face them.
The Aron in polychrome marble comes from Scola Nova; the original tympanum had to be removed because of the height of the ceiling, and at its sides the seats belonging to the tripartite structure of the Aron from Scola Catalana made between 1622 and 1628. The tevah comes from the Scola Castigliana: it was donated in 1851, and is the last, large marble item purposely made for the Cinque Scole.

Great Synagogue of Rome -Tempio Maggiore

The imposing building of Tempio Maggiore (The Great Synagogue of Rome) stands on one of the four large blocks put up after the ghetto had been demolished.
Its monumental proportions symbolize the new-found freedom and citizenship rights granted to the Roman Jewish community that had been living in the city for twenty-two centuries.
The building was designed by Vincenzo Costa and Osvaldo Armanni, and inaugurated in 1904. Their choices in style led to an eclectic architecture, with Greek-inspired elements that were felt to be in keeping with the shape of the main local monuments, a style influenced by Assyrian-Babylonian motifs .
The building has a Greek cross plan with a segmented dome above, clearly visible in every panoramic view of the city.
Inside, long rows of pews face the polygonal apse at the end of the hall where a ceremonial raised space enclosed by a balustrade connects the tevah to the Aron. The Aron stands out against a splendid polychrome background with its imposing aedicule structure, with white Assyrian-style columns, friezes and gilded arabesques, and the high tympanum culminating with the Tables of the Law.
The women’s galleries overlook three sides of the hall, and are supported by rows of columns and framed by four large central pillars holding the dome up.
Fine marble furnishings from Cinque Scole (demolished in 1908) are at the top-end of the side aisle in the Temple. The pieces date from the 16th -17th centuries.

The Synagogue de la Paix

The construction of the Great Synagogue of Peace was inaugurated on March 23, 1958. It has about 1,700 seats. This building, the seat of the Chief Rabbinate, simultaneously includes several places of worship: the “Mercaz” youth oratory, and the Leo Cohn synagogue of the Sefarad rite, a Gan Chalom kindergarten, a Yehuda Halevy elementary school, administrative and social premises, a large library, as well as the premises of the Community Center and of the Jewish radio station “Radio Judaïca” (102.9 MHz in FM).
The modernism of the building is reflected in the materials and the masterplan of the building. Traditional symbols of Judaism can be found in the building, such as: the vast vault is supported by twelve columns evoking the twelve tribes of Israel: the first two frame the exterior portal, and the ten located inside recall the Ten Commandments. The main front consists of a continuous network of stars of David, a monumental work of ironwork, at the base of which begin the metal portal, whose leaves are decorated with the emblems of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Inside, the nave can be split in half by a large wooden wall and form a conference room of 400 seats: it is the Hirschler room in memory of the great rabbi of the Lower Rhine, who died in deportation. The Holy Ark, located on the stage (“Al memor”) is a round sanctuary in wrought iron and above a large Star of David is placed horizontally on five thin columns. On the pediment is an inscription in Hebrew: “Do we not all have the same Father?” The curtain of the Holy Ark is a vast Aubusson tapestry cartoon by the famous tapestry artist, Jean Lurçat.
For more information:
http://judaisme.sdv.fr/histoire/villes/strasbrg/index.htm

The Synagogue de la Paix

The construction of the Great Synagogue of Peace was inaugurated on March 23, 1958. It has about 1,700 seats. This building, the seat of the Chief Rabbinate, simultaneously includes several places of worship: the “Mercaz” youth oratory, and the Leo Cohn synagogue of the Sefarad rite, a Gan Chalom kindergarten, a Yehuda Halevy elementary school, administrative and social premises, a large library, as well as the premises of the Community Center and of the Jewish radio station “Radio Judaïca” (102.9 MHz in FM).
The modernism of the building is reflected in the materials and the masterplan of the building. Traditional symbols of Judaism can be found in the building, such as: the vast vault is supported by twelve columns evoking the twelve tribes of Israel: the first two frame the exterior portal, and the ten located inside recall the Ten Commandments. The main front consists of a continuous network of stars of David, a monumental work of ironwork, at the base of which begin the metal portal, whose leaves are decorated with the emblems of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Inside, the nave can be split in half by a large wooden wall and form a conference room of 400 seats: it is the Hirschler room in memory of the great rabbi of the Lower Rhine, who died in deportation. The Holy Ark, located on the stage (“Al memor”) is a round sanctuary in wrought iron and above a large Star of David is placed horizontally on five thin columns. On the pediment is an inscription in Hebrew: “Do we not all have the same Father?” The curtain of the Holy Ark is a vast Aubusson tapestry cartoon by the famous tapestry artist, Jean Lurçat.
For more information:
http://judaisme.sdv.fr/histoire/villes/strasbrg/index.htm