Monday, 2 June 2008

Tempio Maggiore di Rome (The Great Synagogue of Rome)

I decided to add a blog on the Great Synagogue of Rome although it is not technically a “church”. It does however, have a connection to the Catholic Church. On April 13th, 1986 Pope John Paul II visited the Great Synagogue. It was the first synagogue ever visited by a Pope. Pope John Paul II came to visit with the intentions to cultivate the relationship between Judaism and Catholicism.
Ironically, the Great Synagogue is designed more like a church than a synagogue because of its enormous size and the layout with the altar in front of the congregation rather than in the shape of the menorah. In the early 1900’s the Jewish community demolished their five small synagogues, and decided to build a more extravagant synagogue as a symbol and celebration of their liberation. In the center of the Jewish Ghetto overlooking the Tiber River, stands the impressive Babylonian style temple. The unique aluminum square dome distinguishes the temple from the other buildings in Rome, and can be seen at a great distance. Inside, the starry ceiling opens up to a rainbow sky which symbolizes the covenant and invites you inside. The eclectic walls, decorated with Arabic and Hebrew symbols, offer a difference between the interior of synagogues and churches. This beautiful and holy temple is a wonderful tribute to the Jews freedom!

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