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Synagogues of Spain, Reaction Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 280

Reaction Paper

Synagogues of brick, stone, plaster, and wood contrived in great beauty of shape and form to survive as living memorials to the known and the unknown. The two synagogues with such outlandish names, Santa Maria La Blanca and Nuestra Senoa del Transito, are poignant, living reminders that more than synagogues were forcibly converted. Such profoundly pious Catholic Christian names with which these two synagogues were consecrated were also forced on men. The improbable name for a synagogue, Holy Mary the Virgin, summarizes the Jewish story in Toledo in the waning days of the middle Ages in Spain.

So much then for Toledo, the Toledo that held forth as the most important city in all Spanish history, the city which Spaniards say is the most complete and characteristic ensemble of all that has been and is genuinely Spanish. The most perfect, the most brilliant, and the most suggestive resume of the history of Spain is to be found in the streets and the architectural monuments of Toledo, a history in which the Jews played one of the principal parts.

In Spain, synagogue plans ranged from a single room with an adjacent vestibule and women’s area above it, to five-aisled or three-aisled basilicas, to Tomar’s squarish room with nine vaulting bays held on four pillars. Five-aisled synagogues later disappeared from synagogue architecture, while the three-aisled type was used by Sephardic Jews in the seventeenth century, but probably under the influence of church architecture rather than because of centuries-old Liberian memories. The Cordoba synagogue was a tiny box. The box survived because it suited a synagogue’s needs and because of its enemy; later examples need not to have owed a debt to Toledo and Cordoba.

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