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Canton Synagogue

Canton Synagogue

This Synagogue is named either after the family that had it built or after its position in the « canton» (Venetian = corner) of the Ghetto Square. Started in 1531-1532, it was enlarged and enriched in the following centuries until 1780. Similar to the Scola Grande Tedesca, it, too, follows the Askhenazi rite indicating that a large proportion of the Community followed this rite (as mentioned in the introduction, in the 18th Century there were six Synagogues following the German rite). Above the entrance portal one can read: «Year of the construction of the Holy Community Canton Synagogue 5292 (1532) ». The stairs were renovated in 1859.

At the head of the stairs, in the first doorway, a tablet erected by Joab Fano in 5602 (1842) and similar to the one in the Scola Tedesca reads: « Free yourself, mortal, from evil desires when to the Temple you move your foot to pray think whom you are praying to and with devout faith turn your mind to your Divine Subject ».

Above the second doorway there is a verse from Salomon's Proverbs (8-34): «Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates ». Inside, on the left, stands the Holy Ark, with its intricate and altogether too heavy style of decoration, while on the right the graceful pulpit (teva ), with ornaments of Pompeian style, projects from a polygonal apse supported by four original columns of interlacing branches.

The women's gallery is situated here overhang¬ing the entrance door, but one hardly notices it because this small Synagogue is of such exact proportions that the lattices of the women's gallery seem to mingle with the ornamental motif running along the walls below the cornice. Various inscriptions and marble tablets commemorate the successive stages of the restoration of this fine Temple (1674-1736-1846).

Above the entrance door one can read that « at the end of Ellul (August -September) the gild¬ing to honor the House of the Lord was completed ». The Holy Canton Community 5540 (1780). On the right side of the Aron one can read two prayers for the ending of the Sabbath and other feasts; on the steps is written: « Gift of Joshua Moshe for his brother slaughtered like a Kid. The day of his birth was a hard day for him. On his forty-fourth birthday (the numerical value of the Jewish word for « blood» is 44) may his blood be a sacrificial offering to God»: Mordechai, son of Menachem Baldosa, Wednes¬day 9th of Nissan. Buried on Jar 26th 1672 ( «Accept with mercy, Oh, Lord»).

On the inside of the doors of the Aron, as in the Schola Tedesca, is inscribed: «Keter Torah ». At the center is a crown with the Ten Commandments underneath. The panels above starting from the wall opposite the entrance, bear inscriptions and pictures from the Bible representing Moses making the waters spring out of the rock, at the sacrifical altar, near the Red Sea, In Jerusalem etc.

The seat behind the pulpit is «the gift of Benjamin Marina di Consiglio », while a stone in the corner on the left was placed there in commemoration of an offer of 180 ducats made by a Shelomo for the building of the Synagogue in 1532.

On going out one can read an admonition: «And now you are leaving, go in peace and do no evil », On the wall outside, to the left, there is a small marble tablet saying: «Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about» (Psalms XXXII, 10).

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