Bar-le-Duc, Meuse, France


Parshat Vayetze (וַיֵּצֵא – And he went out), Genesis 28:10–32:3.

The synagogue of Bar-le-Duc, built in 1871, in a Moorish style, mixes the symbols of Judaism with elements of Renaissance architecture. Above the door, it is written in Hebrew the verse of Vayetze:

Genesis 28:17
אין זה כי אם־בית אלדים
וזה שער השמים
This does not is other than the house of Gd
and it is the gate of heaven

The presence of a Jewish community in Bar-le-Duc is attested from the Middle Ages. But in the 12th century, a time of intolerance and ghettoization, the Jews left the city. It is not until 1727 that Jewish families are again mentioned.
In 1868, land on the banks of the river Ornain was acquired with the aim of building a synagogue there. The project is financed by subscriptions and by grants from the city and the state. In 1872, the synagogue was built under the direction of architect Charles Demoget1.
In 1939, the community had more than 25 families, but the war and the deportation meant that, at the end of the war, the community had become too small for the synagogue to still be used as a place of worship.
On February 28, 2013, the entire synagogue, the garden and the enclosing wall were listed as historical monuments.

1 Louis Charles Demonget, engineer and architect born in Bar-le-Duc in 1827 and died in 1903.

Jacob’s Congregation, London, England


Parashash Toldot (תולדות – lineage) Genesis 25:19–28:9.

After a long period of sterility, Rivka gives birth to twins, Essav and Ya’acov. Esav sells his birthright to Ya’acov for lentil stew. Yts’hak blesses Ya’acov thinking it is Esav. Yaacov fled to Laban, his mother’s brother, to prevent Esau from killing him. Yts’hak blesses Ya’acov once again.

Genesis 28:1
וַיִּקְרָא יִצְחָק אֶל-יַעֲקֹב, וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתו
Yts’hak called Ya’acov and blessed him.

The Synagogue of the Kehilat Ya’akov1 (Congregation of Jacob) is the first Mizrahi Synagogue2 from Great Britain, built in 1921 by the architectural firm Lewis Solomon & Its, it is now one of four active synagogues in East London.

1 Congregation founded by Morris Davis Koenigsberg and Abraham Schwalbe in 1903. Originally it consisted largely of immigrants from Poland and Lithuania.
2 Mizrahi acronym for Merkaz Ruhani (מזרחי = מרכז רוחני = spiritual center) is a Zionist organization religious founded in 1902 in Vilnius. She champions the idea of ​​a Jewish state largely based on Orthodox Judaism.

Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron, Israel

Parshas Chayei Sarah (חַיֵּי שָׂרָה – life of Sarah), Genesis 23:1-25:18.
Abraham buys a burial place for his wife Sarah. He commissions his servant Elierez to find a wife for his son, Ytz’hak.

Genesis, chapter 23, verse 19
וְאַחֲרֵי-כֵן קָבַר אַבְרָהָם אֶת-שָׂרָה אִשְׁתּוֹ, אֶל-מְעָרַת שְׂדֵה הַמַּכְפֵּלָה עַל-פְּנֵי מַמְרֵא–הִוא חֶבְרוֹן: בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן
Then Abraham buried Sarah, his wife, in the vault of the field of Makhpelah, opposite Mamre, which is ‘Hevron: In the land of Cana’an.

During the Second Temple period1, the Jews built a small building above the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Ytz’hak, Rivka, Ya’akov, Leah and according to tradition those of Adam and Chava. In the Ist centuryBCE, Herod the Great built the Tomb of the Patriarchs in its present form.
Twenty five centuries after its acquisition, Makhpéla, this Jewish heritage was transformed into a church by the Byzantines (Vth century), then into a mosque (VIIth century). During the Crusades (1100-1187), the building was converted into a church, before becoming a mosque again.
From 1267, the Muslim occupants forbade the Jews to approach the sanctuary. In 1929, under the British mandate, the bloody riots in Hévron forced the Jews to leave the city. In 1950, the Jordanians annexed Judea and Samaria and prohibited Jews from visiting their holy places. In ‘Hévron, they destroy the Jewish quarter, the cemeteries and the Abraham Avinou synagogue.
In 1967, Israel regained control of the region. In 1979, nineteen women and forty children moved into the former Beit Hadassah2 hospital.
In 2017, UNESCO inscribed3 the Tomb of the Patriarchs on the World Heritage List as a Palestinian site, erasing the Jewish character of the place.
To counter this decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces the construction of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in ‘Hévron which will be financed from Israel’s UN endowment.

1 From the VIth century BCE to the Ist century CE.
2 Rabbi Haim Rahamim Yosef Franco (1833-1901) built Beit Hadassah, a infirmary and an aid center for the needy in 1893. The building has been enlarged several times (see the site of Hevron).
3 12 states voted in favor, 6 abstained and 3 voted against

Beth Rivkah School, Brooklyn, USA


Parashat Vayera (ויראAnd He Appeared), Genesis 18:1–22:24.
Besides, the episodes from the welcoming of Abraham, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the installation of Abraham with Abimelekh, the dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael and the binding of Yitzchak, this parsha announces many births, in particular those of Yitzchak and Rivka.

Genesis 22:23
וּבְתוּאֵל, יָלַד אֶת-רִבְקָה.
Which Bathuel begat Rivka.

In 1941, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn zt”l1 established Beth Rivkah2 Elementary School in Brooklyn. Fourteen years later Later, his son-in-law Le Rabbi de Lubavitch zt”l3 opens the High Scholl division. In 1988, the new Chomesh Campus was built on an area of ​​11,600 m2 and includes 4 floors. It accommodates more than 2,000 female students with nearly 100 classrooms, as well as science labs, computer centers, libraries, a sports gymnasium and a rooftop playground.
Other branches were opened: in 1947 in Yerres (France), in 1950 in Casablanca (Morocco), in 1956 in Montreal (Canada), Quebec (Canada) and Melbourne (Australia) and in 1987 in Kfar Chabad ( Israel).

1 says the Rayatz (1880-1950), sixth Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty.
2 בית רבקה, Rebecca’s House, school for girls.
3 Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902- 1994) seventh and last Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty.

Adass Israel, Washington, USA

Parashat Lekh Lekha (לך לךGo for your), Genesis 12:1 to 17:27.

Genesis 12:1
… לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְךָ …
… Get away from your country, from your birthplace…

The word לְךָ (lekha) emphasizes the passage from one state to another, for the fulfillment of a destiny1 .

In 1876, the Adas Israel congregation in Washington built a small brick synagogue. On June 9, President Grant2 and Senator Ferry attend his inauguration. In 1908, following the influx of immigrants, the congregation moved to a new building on Sixth Street.

In 1910, the synagogue was sold. Over the years, the building passed from one state to another. From 1910 to 1940, it hosted various churches. Then, over the following years, it was divided into different spaces (grocery store, hairdresser, dentist’s office, real estate agency, bicycle shop, delicatessen, café, etc.). Eventually it becomes the Lillian & Albert Small.

In 1969, the Jewish Historical Society with the help of local and federal governments moved the 273-ton building which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places3. In 2016, the building is moved again, as well as in January 2019, in order to become the heart of the capital’s new Jewish Museum, The Lillian & Albert Small Capital Jewish Museum.

1 Genesis 22.2; 27.43  ; Exodus 18.27  ; Joshua 22.4; Song of Songs 2.10.
2 18th President of the United States (1869-1877)
.< br>3 The National Register of Historic Places (1966) is the official list of monuments placed under the trusteeship of the federal government of the United States, in order to preserve, conserve, restore and manage them.