The 'Shaar Harahamim' or Gate of Mercy Synagogue
Situated at 254, Samuel Street, Mumbai: 400 003
The "Shaar Harahamim" or "The Gate of Mercy" Synagogue holds pride of place among all the synagogues, (in fact all the Jewish Institutions) in Mumbai it being the oldest. The history of this synagogue reveals that till the eigtheenth century, the Bene Israel community, settled in the Western region of India, did not have a synagogue for collective prayer. It was in the summer of May 1796, that Late Commandant Samaji Hasaji Divekar (Samuel Ezekiel Divekar) who pioneered the construction of this synagogue, his vision was finally realized, when this haven of worship and prayer, the "Shaar Harahamim", was built at Samuel Street (so named after him).
The Shaare Rason Synagogue
Situated at 90, Tantanpura Street, Mumbai: 400 003
The Shaare Rason or the New Synagogue situated hardly a furlong away from the Gate of Mercy Synagogue, was built from the voluntary contributions raised by a splinter group within the Jewish community. Within the community there were a section of people dissatisfied with the management of the older synagogue and they decided to establish their own synagogue.
In the year 1839, Samuel Jacob Divekar, Haeem Isaji Garsulkar and some other Bene Israel's of Mumbai subscribed a sum of Rs. 2725 and purchased land on December 22nd, 1840. This break-away group rented a room in the premises owned by Daniel Kehimkar Maistry, where they held services for about three years. On this very land, the New Synagogue later named the "Shaare Rason" was consecrated on June 4th, 1843.
The Magen David Synagogue
Situated at Byculla on Sir J. J. Road, Mumbai: 400 008
The Magen David Synagogue is one of the two synagogues in Mumbai city built due to the efforts and enterprise of the Sasson family. This tall and impossible edifice, notable for its gothic character lent by the four frontal pillars, towers over all the other buildings in the neighboring areas.
Completed in 1861, this synagogue was erected at the sole expense of David Sassoon Esq. one of the founding fathers of this city. This synagogue, having been found insufficient to accommodate the increasing Jewish congregation was enlarged and renovated by Sir Jacob E. Sassoon Bart. in 1910.
The ceiling lights of this synagogue were donated by Eugene Schildkrant of Great Neck, New York in memory of his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Schildkrant in 1956.
The synagogue is a one-storeyed structure, has an expensive prayer hall with the upper gallery reserved exclusively for ladies. It has an exquisite 'Tebah' and 'Hekhal'. The synagogue today is managed by a group of Trustees belonging to the Sir Jacob Sassoon Charity Trust.
The Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue
Situated near the Jehangir Art Gallery on Fort Street, Mumbai: 400 023
The Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue, one of the most beautiful and magnificent structures dotting the landscape around the Fort area (in Mumbai) was constructed in 1884. It was built by Jaboc Elias Sassoon and his brothers to commemorate the memory of Elias David Sassoon, their father.
The synagogue is a construction that is a veritable feast for the eyes. Painted in a beautiful light acquamarine blue that merges well with clear blue skies, the structure comprises of two floors. The first consists of a spacious hall, for the men with a unique 'Hekhal' to house the Sefer Torahs. It has carved wooden doors which reflect the craftsmanship prevailing in the days of the British Raj. The stained glass windows lend a touch of aesthetic class to the overall richness and grandeur of the interior. There is also the customary 'Tebah' (pulpit) at the centre of the hall for prayers and reading of the Torah by the Hazzan (cantor). The second floor of the synagogue is occupied by the ladies gallery. There is also the 'Mikwah' (the well where Jewish women have the sacred bath).
The building also has provisions for a community center and a school in the Habonim work room adjoining the synagogue. The land on which the building stands and also the surrounding area was purchased by Mr. Jacob E. Sassoon from the Land Mortgage Bank of India. The cost of the deal including the synagogue was around Rs. 150000. The building designed by Mr. D. E. Gostling C. E. is about fifty feet long and about forty feet in height. The lower part of the building is of Cooria stone and the rest of brick.
The centenary celebrations of the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue were held on February 6th 1985. The occassion was graced by the former President of India - Late Giani Zail Singh who inaugurated the celebrations. The Post and Telegraphs Department also issued a commemorative stamp to mark the occassion.
The Roman Architect Vitruvius, who lived some 2000 years ago, said architects should combine usefulness, strength and beauty in their work. Today as one looks upon the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, one realizes that the aims of architecture described by Vitruvius are more than fulfilled.
The Tiphereth Israel Synagogue
Situated at 92 Clarke Road, Jacob Circle, Mumbai: 400 011
When the Tiphereth Israel Synagogue was built, there were already two existing Bene Israel synagogues in Mumbai. However there was an increase in the Jewish polulation at Jacob Circle and its neighboring areas and hence the idea of building a synagogue there gained momentum and urgency. Towards this end, a Prayer Hall called the Jacob Circle Prayer Hall was initiated in 1886 in a rented building named as "talegaonkar Building". While the first step was to provide a makeshift, temporary arrangement, it was nevertheless crucial for the expression of the religious aspiration of a growing Jewish population. This first step was possible due to the untiring efforts of selfless social workers like Mr. Benjamin Samson Ashtamkar, Solomon Benjamin Ghosalkar, Elijah Joseph Bhastekar and others.
A decade later, in 1896 the Prayer hall was named "The Tiphereth Israel Synagogue". However, the synagogue finally found its permanent residence when the Late Mr. Jacob Issac Aptekar and the Late Mr. Aaron Benjamin Kandlekar collected funds to the tune of Rs. 30000. This occured in 1922 and it was decided by the congregation to purchase the premises known as "Rosh-Del-Villa" which houses the synagogue at present. The final transaction took place in 1923, when the building was purchased for Rs. 35600. The Late Mr. Aaron Benjamin Kandlekar donated an amount of Rs. 20000 for the renovation and maintenance of the synagogue which was finally consecrated on 23rd March, 1924. As a result of popular public opinion, it was widely known as "Kandlekaranchi Mashid" (Kandlekar's Synagogue) in the local language of Marathi. This was particularly because of the noble, selfless and yeomen service rendered by Mr. Kandlekar to the cause of the synagogue.
The synagogue has never neglected giving due attention to the education of needy children and upliftment of the poor from the time of its inception even when faced with constriction due to a limited budget.
The Etz Haeem Prayer Hall
Founded in 1888, now situated at 19, Umarkhadi, 2nd Cross Lane, Mumbai: 400 009
The Etz Haeem Prayer Hall was instituted in 1888 by Mr. Haeem Samuel Kehimkar, the then President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Elly Kadoorie High School - then known as the Israelite school. This school had provided the premises for the establishment of this prayer hall initially. In those days, this prayer hall not only served a community need in worship, but was also an educational and social centre, with t\provisions for sermons and lectures on religion and Jewish customs. It also distinguished itself in the conducting of choirs and in initiating the publishing of books in Marathi about Judaism. It has also made vast and unique contributions to charitable spheres in social welfare. In this context, the name "Etz Haeem" which means "Tree of Life" fits this prayer hall most perfectly.
In 1908 however, after Mr. Kehimkar's death, the prayer hall was shifted from the school to its present location in Umerkhadi. Even here, the prayer hall has continued with its laudable contribution to needy institutions and towards the education needs of the Jewish people.
The Magen Hassidim Synagogue
Founded in 1904, Situated at Jacob Circle, Agripada, Mumbai: 400011
The Magen Hassidim Synagogue was built in the vicinity of the Jacob Circle area in 1904. This was around eighteen years after the Tiphereth Israel Synagogue was built in the same area. There were differences of opinion amongst the members of the Tiphereth Israel Synagogue and they decided to establish the Jacob Circle New Prayer Hall - as it was originally called. After this prayer hall was completed in 1904 it was also known as Dandoolkar's Prayer Hall since Mr. Benjamin Samson Dandoolkar was at the forefront in this prayer hall's inception.
Later, a plot of land was acquired at the nearby site in Madanpura for building, the synagogue which was consecrated on March 29th, 1931. A separate building was also built in the synagogue compound and the upper two floors are utilized by the community for wedding and other receptions. In 1983, a pavilion was inaugurated for the use for cultural shows and for social activities.
Today, this synagogue boasts of the largest membership of Jews in Mumbai and most of the marriages and Bar Mitzvah ceremonies are solemnized at this synagogue.
The Kurla Bene Israel Prayer Hall
Founded in 1946, Situated at Jewish Colony, 275 S. C. Barve Marg, Kurla (West) Mumbai: 400070
The founding father of the Kurla Bene-Israel Prayer Hall was Mr. Jiradkar who earlier conducted the High Holiday prayers at his residence in Chunabhatti near Kasalwada in Kurla (East). In 1942, a Rabbi on his trip to India visited the Kurla Bene Israel Prayer Hall and donated a Sefer Torah to be installed in it. This building was known as Old Court Building and it was leased to Mr. Sagaonson who shifted his residence to it in 1943. He allocated a hall for the community for prayer and he did so without charging any rent. Later on, the Kurla Bene Israel Committee which held prayers on Fridays and Saturdays on the request of Mordekhai Aaron Mazgaonkar managed the Prayer Hall. The lease of the building was transferred to the Kurla Bene Israel Prayer Hall in 1958
Rodef Shalom Synagogue
Run by the Jewish Religious Union (JRU) founded in 1925
Situated at 23 Sussex Road, Near Victoria Gardens, Mumbai: 400027
The Jewish Religious Union (JRU) started as a movement for progressive thinking, religious enlightment and most importantly, for meaningful Jewish worship. Initiated by the late Dr. (Miss) Jerusha Jacob Jhirad after her return from the United Kingdom, in 1924, the movement attracted considerable interest and support from several broad-minded Jewish families in Mumbai. For several years the Sabbath and High Holy day services were held at the 'Stree Mandal' due to lack of proper premises.
The synagogue took concrete shape primarily due to the driving force and backing extended by Rabbi Hugo Gryn and his wife. In August 1958, they received monetary assisstance from the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, U.S.A. with which
1. The David Sassoon Industrial and Reformatory Institution
2. The Elphinstone Technical High School
3. Sir Elly, Kadoorie High School
4. Sir Jacob Sassoon High School
5. The Elisha Ezra Ezekiel Sassoon School
6. The Institute of Science
7. The Hill Grange High School and Junior College
8. ORT India
1. Masina Hospital
2. The Haffkine Institute
3. Sir Sassoon David Hospital
1. The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room
2. Dr. Jerusha Jhirad Post Graduate Research Library
1. Clock Tower of Victoria Gardens
2. The Gateway of India
3. Hutatma Chowk
1. Statue of Sir David Sassoon
2. The Prince of Wales - An Equestrian Statue
3. Statue of the Prince of Wales
4. Statue of Prince Albert
1. Beth Israel: Home for Orphans and Destitute
2. Bombay Flying Club
3. The Jewish Club, Bombay
4. Old - Age - Day - Care centre