Venipedia

The oldest Venetian Scola, of the Ashkenazi rite (ie German), is located in the wide campo of the Ghetto Nuovo.

It would be difficult to distinguish it from the other buildings if it were not for its five characteristic arches in white stone and the writing just below the cornice. 

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"Bet ha-kenèset hagedolà Kerminag askenazim" is the legible inscription on the entrance portal of the Synagogue and signifies that we are in front of the ‘great school according to the Germa n rite’, a gift from Joseph and Samuel Matatià. Immediately under the cornice is a phrase written in Hebrew which reaffirms the name of the place and blesses its faithful. 

It was first built in 1528 and again between 1732 and 1733, to then be restructured in 1975 -1979.

The architect who built this synagogue certainly had his work cut out in order to give the appearance of balance to the oval shaped building. The prayer and study hall, which is trapezoidal shaped, also had to follow the curvature of the canal below. The hall has undergone numerous modifications over the centuries, for example, the polygonal shaped Tevà (pulpit, table from which the Torah is read), has been set back from its original position (probably in the center of the room under the lantern) and it is assumed that the benches were positioned around it. This shift of the Tevà , which took place in the mid-19th century, led to th e walling o f two of the five windows, a characteristic element of most of the Venetian ‘Scole’ (the five windows correspond to the five books of the Torah) . 

The interior finishes reflect the restoration work carried out on the building, in particular, as far as the old part of the hall is concerned, poor material used for the decorations ( marmorino) which goes well alongside the cherry wood. One of the peculiarities of this Synagogue, which differentiates it from the others in the city, is the transcription of the Ten Commandments (according to the Exodus version) that runs along all the walls. Regarding instead the restructuring between the 17th and the mid-19th centuries, we mention the aròn (the cabinet containing the sacred laws) donated by the eldest of the Zamel brothers, rabbi Menachem Cividale in 1672 (5432 according to the Jewish calendar), and the seats for the parnassim (superintendents of the Scola).

Finally, the Ten Commandments that are inlaid beautifully in mother-of-pearl are reproduced on the doors of the Baroque style Holy Ark. Recently the Great German Synagogue has only been opened on occasion, for some great or private ceremony. 

Images gallery

The Great German Synagogue
The Great German Synagogue view from the arcade

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