Synagogue of Cuneo, Italy

The Parsha Mishpatim (משפטים – laws), Exodus 21:1 – 24:18

The parsha begins with the phrase וְאֵלֶּה (and behold) which introduces a new dimension to what has been formulated previously. It is the continuity of the ten commandments. In this parasha are promulgated laws on the following subjects: the widow, the orphan, the bride, the parents, the slave, the foreigner, the convert, the courts, the judges, the damage caused to others, the princes , idolatry, Shabbat, shmita, festivals, etc.

L’Orfana Del Ghetto (The Orphan Of The Ghetto), a novel written by Carolina Invernizio in 1899, gives an insight into life in the Cuneo ghetto where the synagogue built in 1611 is located. In 1884, the synagogue was completely renovated in a baroque style, and a facade, opening onto the street by two arched doors reminiscent of the tables of the law, is added. On the ground floor, a library collects texts on the history of the Jews of Piedmont. On the first floor in the prayer hall there is a painted wooden arch, an example of the Venetian Baroque style. On the second floor is the matroneum (עזרת נשים‎ = ezrat nashim).

The Jewish community of Cuneo was once one of the largest in PiedThe Jewish community of Cuneo was once one of the largest in Piedmont. Now reduced to a few families, the synagogue is however still in use.

Synagogue of Subotica, Serbia

Shabat Yitro (יתרו) Exodus 18:1-20.23

The Decalogue (The Ten Words) is read during the sixth aliyah (20:2-17).
The Ten Sayings are inscribed in two parashioth, that of Yitro and that of Va’et’hanan.

A controversy sometimes arises as to whether the faithful should stand or not during the reading. Standing up could mean giving greater importance to these Ten Words than to the rest of the Torah.

In the Synagogue of Subotica, Tablets of the Law were placed at the top of the main entrance and above the Hekhal. It is the second largest in Europe. It was designed by architects Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab. The stained glass windows come from Miksa Róth’s workshop and the ceramics from Zsolnay. It is characteristic of the Secession-Hungarian style (current of Art-Nouveau). It is included in the list of cultural monuments of exceptional importance of the Republic of Serbia. It was renovated in March 2018.

Before World War II, the Jewish community numbered about 6,000, of whom only about 1,000 survived the Holocaust. Today, only 200 Jews live in Subotica.

Abuhav Synagogue in Safed

Tu BiShvat, Hag Ha’Ylanot – ט”ו בשבט, חג האילנות

Tu B’Shvat is a rabbinical institution holiday. It is referred to in the Mishnah as the New Year of Trees. Under the impetus of the kabbalists of Safed, Tu B’Shvat becomes the celebration of the renewal of the Land of Israel. In 1890, to celebrate Tu B’Shvat in the spirit of the Kabbalists, Rabbi Ze’ev Yavetz (d. 1924, Shevat 18) took his students to plant trees in Zikhron Yaakov. In 1907, in this continuity and in memory of Theodor Herzl, the KKL planted the first forest in Israel at Houlda. This is composed mainly of olive trees.
The Abuhav Synagogue is a Sephardic synagogue built in the 16th century in Safed. The architecture of the building is inspired by the Kabbalistic teachings of Rabbi Isaac Abouhav, one of the great sages of Castile in the 15th century. Among his students was Rabbi Ya’acov Beirav, who settled in Safed and became one of the city’s leading sages. It was perhaps he who brought the oldest Sefer Torah from Safed written by Isaac Abuhav. The synagogue was damaged in the earthquake of 1837.
The current paintings are by Israeli artist Ziona Tagger: trees, symbols of the tribes of Israel, musical instruments used in the Temple, 4 crowns (Torah, priesthood, royalty and redemption), …

The Great Choral Synagogue, Grodno, Belarus


Shabbat Shira, Parashat Beshelach (בשלח – when she let go), Exodus 13:17-17, 16.

The Parsha Bechalach contains the Shira (15:1-18) sung in chorus by Moshe and the Hebrews and the Song of the Women (15:20-21) sung by Miriam and the women. As for the haftarah (Judges 4:4–5:31), it contains the chant (5:1-31) of Dvorah and Barak.The Levites sang in the temple, but modern singing in the synagogue only appeared in the 17th century. In the 19th century, synagogues whose ceremony was accompanied by choral singing were called choral synagogues. The Jews received citizenship from Grand Duke Witold in 1389 and settled in Hrodna (Grodna). In the 19th century more than 60% of the population were Jews. There are many synagogues and yeshivas in the city. The Great Synagogue of Hrodna was built by Ilya Fronkin, between 1902 and 1905, in a very eclectic style, inspired by Moorish art, on the site of two former synagogues, which were destroyed during fires, one in 1677 and the other in 1899. 1941, the interior of the synagogue was vandalized by the Nazis and the rich decoration was heavily damaged. During the Soviet Union (1944-1991) it was used as a warehouse. In 1991 it was returned to the Jewish community (0.3% of the population) and was fully restored between 2012-2015.

Laghouat, Algeria

Parashat Bo (בא – Go), Exodus 10:1–13:16.

G. send the three last plagues: locusts, darkness, and the death of the firstborn.

Synagogues were numerous in the main big cities of Algeria but also in very remote small villages where a very ancient Judaism was practiced often pre-existing to Islam.
The town of Laghouat is located on Oued Mzi, to the south-east of the Djebel Amour massif, in the foothills of the Saharan Atlas; it has a vast palm grove, in the shade of which some cereals and fruit trees are grown. The Jews occupied the lower part of the Ahlaf and Ouled Serguine districts. They did heavy and dirty work. The Jews were subordinates and laborers in the service of the Muslims. The year 1967 marked the departure of the last Jew from Laghouat, a woman in this case.

The region of Laghouat had to undergo during the spring of 1933 an invasion of locusts of such importance that the oldest inhabitants did not remember to have seen any similar.
In 2020, locusts invaded East Africa. 360 billion locusts devoured crops at a frightening rate. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) experts believe that this scourge could become much worse in the coming months and that insects will invade North Africa and the Middle East.
These immense clouds of locusts darken the sky to the point of making the sun disappear. If nothing is done, it could lead to millions of deaths.