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Tour of Sha’are Shalom Synagogue

Olde Jamaica Tours can guide you to and around some wonderful old churches and other places of worship of great historic interest including the only remaining synagogue; both located in Kingston.

 

Sha’are Shalom Synagogue (meaning: Gates of Peace)

On August 17, 1985, Jamaica’s Jewish Community (the United Congregation of Israelites) celebrated the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the first Jamaican synagogue to be built located at the corner of Duke and Charles Streets in downtown Kingston. This historic edifice is now Jamaica’s only synagogue. The original structure was heavily influenced by the Byzantine style of architecture and was partially destroyed by the 1907 earthquake. It was rebuilt between 1911 and 1912.

 

The Ark (Echal) and the Reading Desk (Tebah) are of polished mahogany and their platforms covered with white ‘Wilton’ carpets. The floor is covered with sand as a symbol of silence, a reminder of the secrecy in which Jews had to practice their faith in both Spain and Portugal during the era of the Spanish Inquisition. The Ark contains 13 scrolls of Jewish Law salvaged from former synagogues throughout Jamaica. The synagogue now operates a museum which is located on its compound and often gives mini-lectures and exhibitions about the history of the Jews in Jamaica.

 

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