The Tempio Maggiore is also known as the Great Synagogue of Florence. It was a historically significant element of Jewish life in Tuscany following the emancipation in the 19th century. The synagogue was built to commemorate newfound religious freedom. The design was a synthesis of Italian architectural tradition and Moorish stylistic elements. The building is constructed of layered travertine and granite, creating a bold pattern of red and beige stripes, which have since faded. During WWII, Nazis and Italian fascists attempted to execute a plan to destroy the synagogue using explosives. Italian resistance fighters thwarted this plan, however, by defusing most of the bombs. The Jewish community in areas surrounding the temple dates back to Roman times.
Via Luigi Carlo Farini, 6, 50121 Firenze, Italy +39 055 234 6654
The Eldridge Street Synagogue was built in 1887. It stands as a historic landmark in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Eastern-European Jews led the undertaking for its construction. In this way, it is one of the first of its kind in the United States. Peter and Francis William Herter were the architects behind its design. They gained popularity in the area and were subsequently known for incorporating elements of Judaism like the Star of David into their designs. The building received much acclaim in the press upon its completion. It served the congregation of Kahal Adath Jeshurun and draew massive crowds during high holidays in the early 20th century.
12 Eldridge Street, New York, NY, USA +1 212 219 0888
The Rykestrasse Synagogue, or the New Synagogue of Berlin, is the largest synagogue in Germany. Johann Hoeniger originally built the structure in 1904. During the rise of the Nazi regime, when Jews were outlawed from public life, the synagogue opened as a place of lectures, concerts, and benefit performances for poor Jews. On the Night of Broken Glass in November of 1938, much of the synagogue’s contents were burned and destroyed. At this time its rabbis and other inhabitants were accosted and sent to concentration camps. The building itself was minimally damaged and regular services continued until 1940. After the war, Soviet army personnel reopened the synagogue for service. Today it is still in operation as a space for worship.
Oranienburger Str. 28-30, 10117 Berlin, Germany +49 030 88028300
By Lily Cichanowicz.
Lily is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. You can find out more about her work at lilycichanowicz.com.