Prayers at historic south Mumbai synagogue resume under 'wraps'

Updated: Nov 22, 2018, 08:38 IST | Arita Sarkar

Kala Ghoda's Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, that is still being repaired, will reopen in Jan

Work on restoring Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue at Kala Ghoda will be completed by December-end
Work on restoring Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue at Kala Ghoda will be completed by December-end

Even as the restoration of the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue at Kala Ghoda is still underway, eager members of the Jewish community have begun conducting their prayers on weekends since November 2. The work that began earlier this year is expected to conclude by the end of December and the historic structure will be officially inaugurated in January.

Ralphy Jhirad, a member of the Jewish community said that since the majority of the work is complete, the community leaders decided to resume prayers in the main prayer hall. "The first prayer at the Synagogue took place on November 2 and on the next day for Sabbath. On the first evening, more than 50 people showed up for the prayer," he said. The usual count is around 25.

Solomon Sopher, chairman and managing trustee of the Sir Jacob Sassoon and Allied Trust, said that the synagogue will be inaugurated in the presence of several dignitaries including C Vidyasagar Rao, governor of Maharashtra. "We haven't officially opened the synagogue since work has not been completed and we only conduct prayers on the weekends. Everybody is happy with this move," he said.

The Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue was built in 1884 by Jacob Elias Sassoon in memory of his father Eliyahoo Sassoon. Though it was originally built for the Baghdadi Jews who lived in the area, it now caters to the local Jewish community as also the foreigners who visit the historic structure. After the building developed cracks, the decision to restore it was taken. Led by conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah, the restoration work on the heritage structure is being funded by the JSW group.

The interiors of the structure include Victorian stained glass windows and rich Burmese teakwood furnishing. Lambah said that around 20 per cent of the work is pending which includes restoration of the historic stained glass located at the centre of the structure. "It is in a better condition now but there is still work to be done. We also have to look at the furniture and finish the work on setting up the air conditioning," said Lambah.

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