Shfaram synagogue

The Shfaram synagogue (Hebrew: בית הכנסת בשפרעם) (Arabic: شفا عمرو كنيس) is an ancient synagogue located in the Israeli-Arab city of Shfaram, Northern Israel.

Shfaram synagogue
PikiWiki Israel 11134 Ancient Synagogue.jpg
Shfaram synagogue is located in Northern Haifa region of Israel
Shfaram synagogue
Shown within Northern Haifa region of Israel
Coordinates32°48′22″N 35°10′14″E / 32.806148°N 35.17042°E / 32.806148; 35.17042
Site notes
Public accessLimited

The synagogue was built in the 17th century, atop the ruins of an ancient synagogue that had been built on a site where, according to tradition, the Sanhedrin had once sat. The synagogue fell into ruin, but during the mid-18th century, Bedouin chieftain Zahir al-Umar gave permission to the Jews to return and renovate the synagogue there.[1] The synagogue was renovated by Rabbi Chaim Abulafia and his students.

Shfaram was noted in 1845 by Rabbi Joseph Schwarz in his book Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine as having "about thirty Jewish families who have an old synagogue". Jews lived in Shfaram until the 1970s when the community disbanded. Subsequently, the building fell into disrepair and was only recently renovated. Although being abandoned, the keys to the former house of worship are held by a local Muslim and the synagogue is treated with respect by the local Arabs.[2]

In November 2006 the building was rededicated after works to renovate the synagogue were carried out voluntarily by a group of newly qualified police officers. At the ceremony, Shfaram mayor Ursan Yassin retold how that during the October riots he had been forced to physically protect the location and had told local youngsters who wanted to burn it down that they could set him alight, but he would not allow them to harm the synagogue.[3][4] There were however reports of damage to religious artifacts in the ancient synagogue on October 9, 2000.[5]


  1. ^ Ancient Synagogue in Shfaram, Israel Ministry of Tourism
  2. ^ "News Releases: September 12, 2005". Simon Wiesenthal Center. September 12, 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-04. Simon Wiesenthal Center officials pointed to the Israeli town of Shfaram where all of the 25,000 residents are Arab as a living example of religious tolerance: Shfaram's historic synagogue, long empty and without Torah scrolls and prayer books, is still treated by its Christian, Muslim, and Druze neighbors as a sacred communal trust. To this day, the keys to the former house of worship are held, by a local Muslim housewife.
  3. ^ Ashkenasi, Dovid, (November 16, 2006), “Shfaram shul renovated”, Jewish Tribune, pg. 9.
  4. ^ Bedein, David (April 13, 2007). "Arab Resigns Knesset Post". The Bulletin, (Philadelphia). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-09. Shefaram's Mayor Ursan Yassin reminded the media on Thursday that on the first night of the riots he saw a group of masked men that wanted to desecrate the ancient synagogue of Shefaram: "I told the hooligans that I recognized them, and that if they wanted to continue, they would have to get past me.
  5. ^ Hedges, Chris (October 10, 2000). "Israeli vs. Israeli". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-09.[permanent dead link]

Coordinates: 32°48′22″N 35°10′14″E / 32.806148°N 35.17042°E / 32.806148; 35.17042