Portuguese synagogue

Amsterdam has a large synagogue connected to a Jewish history museum. It was originally founded by Portuguese / Spanish Jewish people fleeing Catholic persecution and eventually settled in rather more tolerant cities like Amsterdam. I learned a few things that day:

First, there’s a language called Ladino that combines Hebrew and (mainly) Spanish similar to how Yiddish combines Hebrew and (mainly) German.

Second, I’d never been in a synagogue before, and the layout is quite different from Christian churches. On the photo’s left is the raised dais where the cantor leads ceremonies. Opposite is the big cabinet where the Torah and other special items are kept. Chairs face a central aisle instead of the dais, which surprised me a bit. If I remember correctly, women sit in the balcony above.

Third, “synagogue” in Ladino is “Esnoga”.

Fourth, the synagogue is not heated, and only ever lit by candlelight. In the evening I hear it’s quite magical.

17 May 2017

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