Avraham Avinu Synagogue

The Abraham Avinu Synagogue (Arabic: كنيس أفراهام أفينو; Hebrew: בית הכנסת על שם אברהם אבינו) is a synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Hebron.[1] Built by Sephardic Jews led by Hakham Malkiel Ashkenazi in 1540,[2] its domed structure represented the physical center of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Hebron. The synagogue became the spiritual hub of the Jewish community there and a major center for the study of Kabbalah.[2] It was restored in 1738 and enlarged in 1864; the synagogue stood empty since the 1929 Hebron massacre,[3] was destroyed after 1948,[4] was rebuilt in 1977 and has been open ever since.[5]

Interior, in 2008


The synagogue, marked "Syn" on a 1940s Survey of Palestine map of the Old City of Hebron.

The synagogue is mentioned by Rabbi Naftali Hertz Bachrach in his 1648 book Emek HaMelech.[6] The book deals with the kabbalah, but in the introduction, he mentions a dramatic story about the Avraham Avinu synagogue.[2][7]

The synagogue once housed the wooden doors of the Old Synagogue of Gaza, crafted from sycamore. They were lost during the 1929 Hebron massacre. Photographs of the doors still exist.[8][9]

Interior of the Avraham Avinu Synagogue

Jordan took control of the area in 1948, and after this time a wholesale market, trash dump and public toilet were placed on the site of the Jewish Quarter. The ruins of the synagogue were turned into a goat and donkey pen.[10] The adjacent, "Kabbalists' Courtyard" was turned into an abattoir.[10]

The synagogue in the aftermath of the 1929 riots. Photo: US Library of Congress archives.

In 1971 the Israeli Government approved the rebuilding of the synagogue, courtyard and adjoining buildings.[11] The synagogue was reopened in 1977.[3][12]

Torah scrolls.

The man instrumental in rebuilding the synagogue was local Hebron resident Ben Zion Tavger.[13][14] He was a prominent physicist in the Soviet Union at Gorky University noted for his work in the Magnetic Symmetry phenomenon. He moved to Israel in 1972 and became a chair at Tel Aviv University.[15][16]

Today, the rebuilt synagogue is used each Friday night by the Jewish residents of Hebron to hold prayer services. The synagogue is also open to visitors each day of the week so they can learn about the history of the synagogue, and hold private services.

Today, a plaque with the cover of the book Emek HaMelech and the full text in the original printing hangs on a plaque on the wall of the rebuilt Avraham Avinu synagogue.[17]

See also



  1. ^ Auerbach, Jerold S. (2001). Are we one? : Jewish identity in the United States and Israel. New Brunswick [u.a.]: Rutgers Univ. Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-0813529172.
  2. ^ a b c Auerbach, Jerold S. (2009). Hebron Jews memory and conflict in the land of Israel. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 39–41. ISBN 9780742566170.
  3. ^ a b Parks, Michael (4 November 1976). "Claimed by both Israel and Arabs, once-calm Hebron grows tense". Baltimore Sun.
  4. ^ Fischbach, Michael R. (2008). Jewish property claims against Arab countries. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 86–7. ISBN 9780231517812.
  5. ^ "⁨ויצמן - לביקור בחברון ובשכם ⁩ — ⁨⁨דבר⁩ 27 יוני 1977⁩ — הספרייה הלאומית של ישראל │ עיתונים". www.nli.org.il (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2023-01-08.
  6. ^ Pinson, R. DovBer; Hertz, R. Naftali (2015-06-10). Mystic Tales from the Emek HaMelech. Iyyun Publishing.
  7. ^ "The Cave of Machpela - Legends". www.machpela.com. Retrieved 2016-01-14.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ רובינשטיין, שמעון (1994). "לקורות הקהילה היהודית בעזה: מכתבו של אליהו אבן טוב אל יצחק בן צבי ב-20.8.1942". חוברת המאה של אריאל: מאמרים ומחקרים בידיעת ארץ ישראל. Vol. 2. הוצאת אריאל. p. 258.
  9. ^ שפירא, ישראל (2023-11-09). "מסע היסטורי מרתק: כך התגלה בית הכנסת העתיק בעזה". כיכר השבת (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2024-06-06.
  10. ^ a b Jerold Auerbach (2009). Hebron Jews: Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 79. ISBN 9780742566170.
  11. ^ Grose, Peter (24 July 1976). "After 42 Years, Jews Are Part of Hebron". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "⁨ויצמן - לביקור בחברון ובשכם ⁩ — ⁨⁨דבר⁩ 27 יוני 1977⁩ — הספרייה הלאומית של ישראל │ עיתונים". www.nli.org.il (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2023-01-08.
  13. ^ "Hebrew video of Prof. Tavger at the Avraham Avinu Synagogue". YouTube.
  14. ^ "Avraham Avinu Synagogue". the Jewish Community of Hebron. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  15. ^ "My Hebron by Ben Zion Tavger". www.hebron.com. Archived from the original on 2016-02-16. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  16. ^ "The physicist who changed Hebron: The 30th Anniversary of the passing of Prof. Ben-Zion Tavger - Noam Arnon". www.hebron.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  17. ^ "The Avraham Avinu Synagogue: Miracle past and present by David Wilder". www.hebron.com. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-01-14.

Further reading


31°31′26.24″N 35°6′27.60″E / 31.5239556°N 35.1076667°E / 31.5239556; 35.1076667