Thursday, 22 December 2016

Hobart Synagogue

The unique appearance of the Hobart Synagogue is truly remarkable as it the oldest synagogue in Australia and is also a very rare example of a style of architecture known as Egyptian Revival.

Prior to the design and erection of their synagogue, the Hebrew residents of Hobart had worshipped at the home of one of their prominent residence, a man named Judah Solomon. By April 1843, the Jewish congregation had determined to build themselves a new house of prayer that was specifically dedicated to the God of Israel and in order to make this a reality, they had begun to collect donations to pay for the construction. The plot of land on which the synagogue sits was formally a part of Judah Solomon’s garden who very generously donated the land to the cause.

The foundation stone for the new building was dedicated at a ceremony held in August 1843 and building for the new synagogue was commenced to a unique design that had been put together by an architect named James Alexander Thomson who had earlier arrived in the colony as a convict.

The building was undertaken by the firm of Kirk & Fisher and the elaborate stone carvings that adorn the front fa├žade of the building were principally done by Mr Fisher himself. The new synagogue was officially opened in July 1845 and the building remains a unique fixture of the Argyle St streetscape to this day. The workmanship, beauty and overall appearance of the building were reported to have elicited universal admiration.

Main Text & Information Source – 
“The Story of Central Hobart – Street By Street” – Donald Howatson 2015

4 comments:

  1. Fantastic place, thank you! Spouse and I stayed in a hotel near the Hobart Synagogue so we could go on an organised tour. Two important things you mentioned had slipped my mind:
    1] That synagogues could be built in the Egyptian Revival style of architecture. It was/is very exotic. And
    2] that architect James Alexander Thomson had earlier arrived in the colony as a convict. I wonder who advised him on the ritual and symbolic elements of synagogue building.

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  2. We'll be in Hobart in January and hope to visit the Synagogue; I have a particular interest as my great-great-grandfather was Samuel Moses JP who played an important part in establishing it.

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  3. To schedule a tour of the synagogue, visit http://www.hobartsynagogue.org

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  4. What an elegant building, we have no doubt passed it many times, next time we will stop and see it for ourselves.

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