The Maghain Aboth Synagogue is Southeast Asia's earliest Jewish synagogue. The Maghain Aboth Synagogue was built in the year 1878. The Maghain Aboth Synagogue is situated at the Waterloo Street, within the Rocher Planning area. On the 27th of February, 1998, the Maghain Aboth Synagogue was officially declared as a national monument.
History of the Maghain Aboth Synagogue
The Synagogue Street area is Singapore's oldest settled area housing preservation buildings and many of the religious monuments of Singapore.
Three Jews named Nassim Joseph Ezra, Ezra Ezekiel and Joseph Dwek Cohen were offered a land-lease in the year 1841 to set up a synagogue in the Synagogue Street area. The Synagogue Street near the Raffles Lane was Singapore's first Jewish quarter as the Jews believe that the synagogue should be ideally located a short distance away from their homes. Maghain Aboth which stands for "Shield of Our Fathers" was built in the year 1878. A well was dug in the compound that would serve as a "mikvah" or the ritual bath. On the 4th of April, 1878 consecration service was performed in the temple either by I.J. Hayeem or by Lucunas. The building was extended in 1924.
A building which serves as a place of prayer is called a synagogue. According to the Judaic philosophy, the synagogue differs from the temple as it is the most sacred building built by King Solomon for serving the Israelites. The "temple" no longer has any physical existence after Jerusalem's Temple of Solomon was destroyed in 70 A.D.
The distinctive feature of any synagogue is that there is a raised pulpit in the prayer-hall's center. The Rabbi performs his prayer services from the raised pulpit known as "bema" and during the service "Torah" is also read from here.
Away from the entrance just opposite to the bema lies the Ark having a niche to keep the Torah.The Ark is faced westwards towards the Jewish holy land of Jerusalem and it stands on a mounted platform. An embroidered curtain known as the parochet covers the ark. Embroidering the parochet is deemed to be an honorable task.
There is a seven-branched candlestick known as the menorah in front of the Ark.
The synagogue's walls lack images, pictures or decorations as icons or images of the prophets or God is prohibited in Judaism.
Originally the synagogue was a single-storied; a second-storied balcony was later added to the building.
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