Cantón in Venetian means ‘corner’: does the name of this precious Jewish place of worship derive from this?
Although the Jewish tradition does not encourage the presence of religious images, the Canton Synagogue, of German rite, seems to be an exception to this rule.
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There are two interpretations given for the name of this Jewish Scola: the first, the most original and interesting, focuses on its particular position on the cantón (‘corner’, in English) the other, as often happens with dwellings, is associated with the surname of the Canton family (or Cantoni) who probably founded the ‘Scola’.
The only of the Synagogues of the Ghetto to not be influenced by a particular style, the Scola Canton is the closest to the architecture of European synagogues: it is imposing, but made warm and welcoming by many wooden decorations. The Synagogue, of the Ashkenazi rite, was erected between 1531 and 1532 and then enlarged in the following centuries until 1780, when the last restoration took place.
The Synagogue not immediately recognisable from the outside, but appears as a graceful wooden attic, with stained glass windows and a small celestial dome that illuminates the tevà (pulpit). A simple portal allows access to a large atrium and a staircase on the side has a plaque that certifies that the year of construction of the place of worship was 5292, according to the Jewish calendar (1532 for us).
A long corridor leads to the small ‘Scola’ and allows you to catch sight of the five windows in front, common to all Venetian synagogues and which symbolize the five books of the Torah. At the right of the entrance is the aròn (the sacred cabinet containing the sacred laws) with very complex and rich decorations while the doors are decorated with gold and represent the Ten Commandments. On the steps of the aròn is an inscription that is most likely a sacrifice, while the floor, a Venetian terrazzo, has a circular design in the center.
To the left of the entrance is an area dedicated to the tevà, which is made significantly more graceful thanks to the magnificent lighting of the dome; the pulpit mixes rococo-style ornaments with elegant Pompeian motifs which are inserted and skillfully harmonized with the rest of the decoration. Worthy of note are the four columns of intertwined branches that support the apse.
One of the peculiarities of this Synagogue is the presence of eight charming panels taken from the book of Exodus, depicting the passage of the Red Sea, the altar of sacrifice, the manna, the Ark on the banks of the Jordan, Qòrach, the gift of the Torah and Moses making the waters part.