Wednesday 14 November 2012

Picture Post Number Eleven - Jerusalem's Famous Sundial

Israel by Yekkes

This is a very familiar image to Jerusalem residents, situated just across the road from the wonderful Mahane Yehuda market on Jaffa Street. The sundial on the front of the building is a well known landmark although few people know the building's name - the Zoharei Chama (Sunrise) Synagogue and even less are aware of the history of the building.

Constructed in stages between 1908 and 1917, by one Rabbi Shmuel Levy, an Amercian taylor who came to  Jerusalem at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1906 he purchased a small house in Jaffa Street with the intuition of expanding it to provide rooms for immigrants as well as to act as a synagogue. He financed his project through selling lottery tickets in the United States.

When completed, it was the tallest building in Jerusalem and included the ground floor synagogue and the Glory of Zion and Jerusalem hostel ono the upper floors, able to accommodate 50 people. The sundial was added to the fourth floor and was intended to enable religious Jews to accurately identify the time for morning and afternoon prayers and the lighting of Shabbat candles. The top floor was lost in an earthquake in 1927 whist a fire in 1941 caused extensive damage to the building. The Jerusalem municipality carried out a partial restoration in 1980 and the building still serves as a synagogue.

The sundial was a designed by Rabbi Moshe Shapiro a watchmaker and Meah Shearim resident, who taught himself astronomy and also made sundials for a number of other synagogues including the old Hurva synagogue in the old city, destroyed by Jordanian troops during the War of Independence in 1948 and recently reconstructed. The Zoharei Chama synagogue and its sundial is a much loved iconic presence in one of Jerusalem's most exciting and vibrant areas - Shuk Mahane Yehuda. 

1 comment:

  1. Looks like the building is smiling