The Great Ades Synagogue

February 12th 2018

Few people know about the ancient Ades Synagogue. Fewer people still know it by its original name, the Great Synagogue Ades of the Glorious Aleppo Community. People from either of those groups will all tell you one thing for certain: the Ades Synagogue is a piece of artwork to be appreciated by anyone with an eye for the finer things in life. If you love beauty, art, and ancient Jewish history, take an hour out of your bustling day touring Jerusalem to visit this century-old wonder.

Synagogue Location

The Ades Synagogue is quietly hidden away in the eclectic Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot. A meeting ground for all types of Jews, Nachlaot seems to be a magnet for hippies, nightcrawlers, and anyone who doesn’t quite fit in somewhere else. Strange, then, that this ancient marvel should be found in such an area. Or is it? Perhaps, the very esotericism of the building is what makes it so appropriate for this unique neighborhood that balks at definition and defies all rules. Either way, it’s a short walk from the Central Bus Station, and you’ll be glad you took the time to come.

The Artwork

Made with the intent to wow, the Ades Synagogue does just that. The impressive rich, wood benches, the pearl inlaid ark, chandeliers, high ceilings, and filigreed curtains instantly move any onlookers, and that’s not even the most astounding part. A young artist named Yaakov Stark made it his mission to create something so beautiful, every worshipper would walk away awed, and that’s just what he did. Painting massive murals across the upper edge of the walls of the synagogue, Stark depicted different parts of Jewish tradition and history in intricate detail like nothing anyone had seen in the hallowed halls of prayer houses in Europe previously.

Today, tourists come from all over to view the delightful murals that were painted back in 1901 and are still a rich part of Syrian heritage. A recent restoration project nearly saw the murals covered, but lucky for us all, the paintings were saved and are prominently displayed to all who care to venture into Nachlaot for a look.

Israel is full of attractive synagogues you should see, but the Ades certainly earns the title Great.