Jewish Synagogue Architecture

  • Created by: Jenna
  • Created on: 14-04-16 10:18


‘W&G Audsley went down in history for creating the unusual type of building, which mixed both Eastern and Western schools of art after travelling around Europe to get inspiration for the design’ (Parry, 2015)

Princes road synagogue has been described as "[h]e who has not seen the interior of Princes Road synagogue in Liverpool has not beheld the glory of Israel." H.A. Meek, The Synagogue, 1995

This presentation is going to discuss the synagogue architecture and primarily focus on the design of the forecourt, the direction of the, the upstairs and downstairs the ark and the stained glass windows.  

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Worshippers have to pass through the forecourt to get into the main worship room of the synagogue. The front doors to the building resemble the stone tablets brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses

But before passing through to get to the synagogue building there was a ‘washing basin’ in the corner used for the ‘ritual washing of hands’ (Silken, 2015 7)

Egyptian capitals on the ceiling- time before lotus. ‘(…) the cedars around the forecourt represent those that Solomon used to build his temple’ (Weissbach, 2011, 4) Which comes later in Kings, which is part of the Nevi’im, in the Tanach.

‘Here the modest proportions of domestic architecture were exceeded, and a structure was reared whose monumental character provided a fitting transition to, and setting for, the magnificence of the innermost chamber’ (Kraeling, 1979, 12)

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Design of the Forecourt

Round arches - Roman design 
Floor -The floor represents the Star of David. Made out of Minton tile- 1874- solid colour clay all the way through

Hebrew writing on the floor by the doors to the synagogue- ‘More specifically, symbolism has also figured in certain matters of synagogue design’ (Weissbach, 2011, 1)

The Islamic shape windows in the forecourt demonstrate the influence of other cultures which supports Parry's (2015) point about G and W Audsley travelling to Eastern and Western schools of Art so must have got inspiration

‘So, too, there has been a requirement that synagogues be designed with windows. According to the ShulchanAruch, these were expected to be twelve in number, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel, “each with its own window to heaven, so to speak,” in the words of one authority. (…) synagogue windows were to serve as reminders that during prayer, worshipers should be aware of the outside world’ (Weissbach, 2011, 2)

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