The Magen Abhraham Synagogue of Ahmedabad

It has Grecian pillars, a triangular roof, a high ceiling and artistic grills with designs of stars and thunderbolt, stained glass galleries, tall windows from where the light flows in, and chandeliers which lend an ethereal glow to the interior of the Magen Abhraham Synagogue of Ahmedabad. It is known to be one of the best in the country.

Few people have seen it, as this is where the Jews of Ahmedabad hold their prayers, even if the congregation fluctuates from large to small. Anyway, all we need is ten Jewish men to hold the prayers. We became a mini-microscopic community in the mid-sixties after the mass migration to Israel.

It is situated amongst religious sites of various communities. He said, nowhere in the world, could one see a synagogue in such unique setting. At first, there was a prayer hall in the walled city that is before it was shifted to the present location. A bench from the old prayer hall has been preserved at the synagogue.

Built in 1934, the land was donated by Dr. Abraham Solomon Erulkar. At the moment, the number of Jews in Ahmedabad has stabilized and regular services are held with the tiny community turning up in full strength. The Synagogue has a central altar or Teva, from where the prayers are read, so prayers books in Hebrew, English and Marathi are kept here. The shofar or ram’s horn is also stored here and blown during festivals. When blown, it reverberates with an ancient melody. The Ark facing Jerusalem stands behind the Teva on a platform, where the casements of religious scrolls or Torah are kept behind closed doors. These decorative casements protect the holy parchments on which the text is written in Hebrew with squid ink according to ancient tradition and brought out only for some festivals. A satin curtain or hekhal covers the Ark, embellished with silver or gold thread with designs of Star of David and Hebrew words. The mezuzah at the door and Hanukah stand in brass are beautifully crafted with a mixture of both western and Indian styles. A winding staircase leads upstairs to the women’s gallery, which is no longer used, but for the Day of Atonement when it gives a bird’s eye view of the Synagogue. The chairs, benches, wired glass screens, fans and old wall clock, lend a beautiful old world charm to the place. Marble is also used extensively at the entrance of the Synagogue and inscribed with names of donors. Marble is also fitted around the Ark, which is incised with the tablets of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew and Marathi, the language of both fatherland and motherland, which says, love they neighbour and we do!

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