About Little Tel Aviv's Great SynagogueYou are standing in front of the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv. This is a central synagogue, used by the little city, and was built as a central location for the developing city.
Arrive to the Allenby Street side of the synagogue. Notice the memorial slates that remember the historical events that occurred here during the British Mandate period.
The story is that during the British Mandate, the synagogue was searched by the British police. This was after the King David Hotel bombing in Tel Aviv. In the basement the policemen found arms and weapons that belonged to the Lehi group. At that time, Eliezer Neuman, the synagogue's leader, was arrested and sentenced to a year's imprisonment by a military court.
Today this synagogue is less popular than in the past. Starting in the 1960's there were significant declines in participants, mainly because of the population change in this area of the city.
Recently the Great Synagogue has come back in style. Various concerts have been held here, weekly religious lessons, lectures, famous cantors, other rabbis from different towns come to lead services here, as well as political figures and foreign guests. Many times celebrities are included among the crowd. All this has given a big push to rejuvenate and modernize the atmosphere.
The Synagogue's ArchitectureThe original designs for the synagogue were made in 1914 by German architect Richard Michael, he almost completed the design, but was then drafted to the German army during World War I. He was switched by architect Alexander Baerwald, who design the Technion in Haifa. But he also did not completed his plans, and it was the architect Yehuda Meginovich, that in 1924 was finally able to begin construction on the building. The dome of the building was designed by Arpad Gut.
In the end of the 1930's the architect Zeev Rechter was asked to design the partial construction of the Great Synagogue. He designed an Italian-style square around the synagogue, on the north and west sides of the building.
By the way, a whole line of houses had been planned around the square. Their ground level was supposed to pass an arcade with eastern arches. The arcade is a covered passageway, with a roof, with a succession of arches or vaults supported by pillars. The spaces of the arcade were designated for the shops and workshops of professionals. From this plan only the "Mani House" was built, which you can see standing in front of the main entrance to the Great Synagogue.
Another renovation and addition to the Great Synagogue took place in the late 1960's. In order to adapt the structure to the spirit of the time and to bring about renewed activity in it, architect Arieh Elhanani added to the building a series of arches and concrete supports placed in front of it, modernizing features in the spirit of the new era.