Synagogue Architecture

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Shule interiorThe Great Synagogue (opened in 1878), was at the time described as a composite building of "Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish Revival and Byzantine" motifs.

It was designed in the 'Transitional French Gothic' style by Thomas Rowe, one of Sydney's leading architects in the second half of the 19th Century. It was opened in 1878. It is a splendid building with magnificent cast iron gates and elaborate stone carving. It was called the 'Great Synagogue' because it followed the principles and rituals of the historic Great Synagogue in London, and combined two smaller Jewish congregations. One group of Jews had previously met at the Egyptian-style synagogue in York Street and the other at an old Baptist church in Macquarie Street.

There had been at least 16 Jews among the 751 convicts on the First Fleet, but the early governors refused to allow them to meet together and, as convicts, they were forced to attend services conducted by the Church of England chaplain. The first Jewish congregation in Sydney was not officially formed until November 1831.

For a fascinating set of architectural images click here