Tagged Jewish community

El Transito Synagogue – Toledo

Synagog of el Transito -- Toledo
Synagog of el Transito - Toledo - interior with wooden ceiling in Mudéjar styleThe Synagogue Samuel ha-Levi in Toledo, now known as the Synogogue of El Transito and the Sephardic Museum, was first built in 1356, by Samuel ha-Levi Abulafia, treasurer to the Christian king of Castile and León, Pedro the Cruel. It’s an unusually large building given that it was a private family synagogue, and beautifully decorated in Islamic-style stucco work, similar to the Nasrid palaces of the Alhambra, with Hebrew and Arabic inscriptions, arches, and a Mudéjar wooden ceiling. Women were not allowed in the main gallery, but watched ceremonies from the women’s gallery above.

toledo-synagogue-7Synagog of el Transito - Toledo - Women's gallery overlooking the main hall, with wooden Mudéjar ceiling

Synagogue - Toledo - close up of capital

Ibn Shushan Synagogue – Toledo – Santa María la Blanca

Synagogue - Toledo - Santa María la Blanca - Interior

St María la Blanca - Synagogue in Toledo - arches with original capitalsAs you’re not using it, we’d like it back, thanks.

In 2013, Isaac Querub, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain made a request: “What would be a better act of generosity and reconciliation than the return of the Grand Synagogue of Toledo to the Jewish people and particularly to the Jewish community of Spain, as a symbol of dialogue between Jews and Christians.”

This synagogue was originally built for the Jewish community of Toledo in 1180 and was known as the Ibn Shushan Synagogue. Wikipedia tells me that it is the oldest European synagogue still standing, and is an example of Mudejar architecture: a fusion of the three dominant cultures of the time, built under Christian rule by Islamic architects for Jewish use. It was taken over by Christians in 1411, renamed Santa María la Blanca in 1550. It was used by a monastery and then as a warehouse until being restored in 1856 as a national monument.

The Catholic Church in Spain has not responded.

Synagogue - Toledo - Santa Maria la Blanca - The shell-shaped arch at one end of the synagogue is where the Torah would have been kept, the heart of the building.
The shell-shaped arch at one end of the synagogue is where the Torah would have been kept, the heart of the building.
Synagog - Toledo - St Maria la Blanca - Capital in Mudéjar style
Capital with finely carved pinecones and other natural imagery, in Mudéjar style with both classical Greek and Byzantine origins.