It’s not easy to define the term “Jewish Architecture”. Synagogue Architecture and generally the Jewish Architecture are hardly mentioned in the Jewish writings.
Jewish Architecture was considered throughout history as hybrid architecture, taking inspiration from local styles and patterns. However, the art and architecture of the synagogue commonly include and repeats symbols derived from the Bible and the Jewish history, such as the Menorah, Luchot HaBrit, and the Star of David.
1. Ulm Synagogue, Germany
The long connection of this hexagram symbol, known as Star of David (Magen David) to Judaism, dates back to the 3rd century. It is perhaps the most widely associated symbol with Judaism nowadays.
Rebuilt on the site of a synagogue destroyed 70 years earlier on Kristallnacht, along the River Danube, the Ulm Synagogue with the impressive Star of David-shaped windows is a well designed 56-feet-high freestanding cuboid. Architects: Kister Scheithauer Gross. Project Year: 2012.
2. Neve Dekalim Yeshiva
The Synagogue of Hesder Yeshiva in the ruined Jewish Israeli settlement Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif, was constructed with a facade in the shape of the Star of David. That extraordinary building was the most outstanding landmark of Gush Katif, which could be seen from every point in the settlement area. In August 2005, the Gush Katif residents were relocated from their homes as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. A few months later, The Neve Dekalim Yeshiva building was destroyed by the palestinians. Architects: Gershon Shevach. Project Year: 1985.
3. Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life at Drexel University, Philadelphia
The Menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum, is the oldest symbol of the Jewish people, and also the oldest known religious symbol of the western world.
The design of new Drexel Hillel was inspired by the Menorah and recognized for outstanding architecture. As befits a Menorah, the four-level building has natural and powerful ethereal lighting. Architects: Saitowitz. Project Year: 2016.
4. The Knesset Menorah, Jerusalem
This molded of the bronze piece of art, standing in the Israeli government precinct’s garden, resembles the golden candelabrum that stood in the Temple of Jerusalem. The engravings on the Knesset Menorah represent various biblical key events and stories from the Jewish history. Designed by: The Jewish sculptor Benno Elkan. Project Year: 1956.
5. Desd Sea Scrolls, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
The holiest and most valued object in Judaism is definitely the Torah Scroll. The Torah Scrolls in use nowadays are made and shaped almost the same as the historical ones, dates back at 1200 BCE, despite the thousands of years that have been passed.
Inside the Shrine of The Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem are the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest known biblical manuscript. The interior of the display room is designed to look like one of the jars the scrolls were found in, with a huge handle, in the shape of a Torah Scroll. Architects: Armand Phillip Bartos and Frederick John Kiesler. Project Year: 1965.
6. Shalva National Children’s Center, Jerusalem
Shalva is a huge charity organization which works to help children with disabilities and their families. They wanted the kids to have access to the Torah even though they can’t actually touch the Torah scrolls. Thus, they sensitively planned this Holy Ark, designed in the shape of the Torah. The perfect carpentry work of Shalva Synagogue is by the skilled team of Gabriel Holy Design. Architects: Raanan Caspin and Ben Biran. Project Year: 2017.