Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Famous Synagogues

In Israel and regions of the Jewish diaspora archaeologists have uncovered many ruins of synagogues from thousands of years ago. The small ruined synagogue at Masada is one of the most well-documented; it dates from the time of the Second Temple. Synagogues have also been discovered in Egypt and on the island of Delos which predate the synagogue at Masada.
The Dura-Europos synagogue (in today's Syria) is considered to be the world's oldest preserved Jewish synagogue.

The oldest active synagogue in Europe is the Alteneushul (Old-New Synagogue) in Prague, Czech Republic, which dates from the 13th century. During Kristallnacht on November 9-10, 1938, the Nazis in Germany and Austria destroyed or significantly damaged 1,574 synagogues, which included many of the greatest synagogues of Europe. Many were also destroyed or fell into disrepair during the Nazis' conquest of Europe, during which many Jewish communities were wiped out.

The Hurva Synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, was the main synagogue in the holiest Jewish city from the 16th century to 1948 when it was destroyed by the Arab Legion. The Hurva is currently undergoing reconstruction that, according to architect Nahum Meltzer's plans, should see the building restored to its previous glory. The Ramban Synagogue, founded by Nahmanides in 1267, is the oldest active synagogue in the Old City. See also Synagogues in Jerusalem.

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