Public Private Hurva Synagogue

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The Hurva synagogue was destroyed once in 1720, allegedly by a mob of angry creditors, and again by the Jordanians in 1948/9 during or right after the Israel War of Independence. It’s sort of hard to explain why the city or ministry of tourism, or whoever was responsible for rebuilding the place turned it into a Haredi synagogue and study center (kollel). Apparently, the place is not easy to get access to, but I was lucky enough to show up on Tisha B’Av and took these pictures.

Sometimes a monument should a monument, like the 4 Sephardi synagogue complex, also in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. The 4 Sephardi synagogues are open to the public, and more charming for it. The Hurva is nice but not easy to look at. With all it rich historical resonance, this kind of place should not be so difficult to enter. It’s the only Jewish building in the Old City built in a grand style. Light and airy, blue, white, and gold, the lovely interior re-design obscures how poorly public space has been thought out and organized in the Jewish Quarter.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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