The Sephardic synagogue in Pesaro
I’ve already written a few times about the Sephardic sinagogue in Pesaro, dating back to the 16th century, and about Pesaro old Jewish Ghetto (its narrow streets are my favourite scenario when I feel like walking alone with the sole company of my thoughts).
However, today I would like to share with you a few pictures of the inside of the synagogue which I took yesterday afternoon.
Following is a brief history of the synagogue that I owe to Pesaro Musei (by the way, I would like to thank the personnel of Pesaro Musei who kindly welcomed me yesterday allowing me to take pictures).
The Synagogue (text provided by Pesaro Musei)
For security reasons there is nothing on the exterior to suggest the religious function of this brick building.
The men’s entrance is on the south-eastern front facing Jerusalem. Next to this, though smaller, is the women’s which leads directly up a staircase to the women’s gallery (…)
On the ground floor are an oven, a bath for the purification of worshippers, and a well. Water – a very important purifying element – runs back into the fountain at the end of the entrance corridor used for the washing of hands.
The Prayer room on the first floor follows a bipolar arrangement whereby The Ark (Aròn) and Pulpit (Tevàh) stand opposite one another against the walls at each end. The entrance to the room is placed under the pulpit. This particular position, a characteristic shared only by the synagogues of Ancona, Carpentras and Cavaillon in France and Safed in Palestine, all of which follow the Spanish rite, is such that those who enter face both the Aròn and Jerusalem.
The most valuable works once adorning the room have unfortunately been removed and are now to be found in synagogues still open for the worship: the Ark in Livorno, the platform of the pulpit in Ancona, the grating of the women’s gallery at Talpioth (Jerusalem)
The Ark, a sort of closet containing the sacred textes (long strips of rolled parchment on which the Pentateuch was transcribed) stood in the eastern wall opposite the entrance (…)
At the other end rose the complex tevah with its double staircase of 15 steps, as in the Temple of Jerusalem. Its raised gallery was large enough to accomodate both the officiant and, in the Sephardic tradition, the members of the choir (…) To the sides of the pulpit gallery two 19th century tempera paintings depicting on the left the Sancturay of Jerusalem and on the right the Jewish camp at the foot of Mount Sinai.
The women’s gallery runs along the wall on the left of the Ark, its view of the room protected by two orders of windows shielded by wooden gratings carved in the form of tiny stars of David (…)
The ceiling is decorated with alternate rosettes and garlands of oak. The latter are clearly a mark of the Sephardic Jews’ gratitude to the Della Rovere Lords of Pesaro for decades of relatively tranquil existence.