After falling into disrepair, a historic Jerusalem synagogue has been restored to her original glory, following several years of painstaking renovation.
From the outside, the Great Ades Synagogue doesn’t appear to live up to the name. Inside its modestly proportioned sanctuary, however, its newly restored century-old murals are spectacular examples of early Zionist art.
The synagogues pews brimmed with visitors and congregation members who flocked to Jerusalem’s Nahlaot neighborhood on Sunday to celebrate the restoration of the building’s historic murals.
The initiative, conceived by the Ben-Zvi Institute and IAA and financed by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jerusalem municipality, took two years to bring the paintings back to their former glory.
The building was originally constructed in 1901, and over the following years Bezalel artist Yaakov Stark transformed the interior into a true work of art.
The ceiling is painted a sky blue, with Stars of David framed by flowers running along its base. On the south, east and north walls, 12 medallions with the icons of the 12 tribes are surrounded by floral designs of the seven species and a repeating pattern of menorahs and Stars of David. A verse from Isaiah 56 — incorrectly reading “my holy house” rather than “my holy mountain” — wrapped in gilded bands encircles the room.
Stark’s decoration of Ades Synagogue, which runs from the floor to the roof, was “the earliest, the most significant and largest Hebrew artwork that we know of,” said Dr. Nirit Shalev-Khalifa, a curator at Yad Ben-Zvi who was integral to the project.