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Temple Emmanu-El

Temple Emmanu-El (110)

Right in the middle of Museum Mile, you will find a great worship centre. It is the largest reform synagogue in the world, seating up to 2,500 faithful. It is so large that it competes with the city's cathedrals.

The establishment of Temple Emmanu-EL was the result of the second wave of Jewish immigration from Europe to the United States, mainly from Austria and Germany. In fact, during the American Revolution in the late 18th century, there were about 10,000 Jews in the country, mostly Sephardim. But then, from 1835 to 1855, another 250,000 came here and settled in New York, Baltimore, Cincinnati and other cities. For this reason, there are so many reform synagogues in the country.

It was in 1845, when a group of Jews founded a small congregation that would become the seed of the current huge synagogue. The Temple Emmanu-EL, as you see it now, was begun in 1927 and completed in 1929, according to a design by the firm Kohn, Butler & Stein. More than 30 metres wide, more than 50 long and more than 30 high, it is, undoubtedly, one of the most majestic synagogues around the world. The building's predominant style is the neo-Romanesque, although it denotes a certain Byzantine, Moorish and Art Nouveau influence, especially in its decorations.

Pay attention to its beautiful flower-shaped rosette, designed by Oliver Smith. Its 12 petals are the 12 tribes of Israel, which come out of a 6-pointed star. Around 36 small stained glass windows symbolise the 36 righteous men, responsible for the preservation of the world and, on the other hand, 36 means a double life. In fact, in Hebrew, 2 times 18, i.e. 36, is the numerical value of the Hebrew word chai, meaning life.

As you can see, the synagogue is full of exciting secrets. Visit it calmly and discover them. You should not miss its stained glass, mosaics, the largest organ of a synagogue in the world and, of course, the sanctuary of Emmanu-EL.

If you have not done so yet, you will soon discover how fascinating it is to know the different parts of a synagogue, its icons, its symbolisms, etc. In fact, it all makes sense the better you know it, right?

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