Neve Shalom Synagogue



Synagogues with such a meaningful name, inferred as ‘oasis of peace’, date back to the ancient periods of Istanbul’s history. In the 1937s, the Knesset (Apollon) and Zülfaris Synagogues were not able meet the needs of the rapidly growing Jewish population of Galata and Beyoğlu. Various venues were rented out, and by special dispensation used as temporary sanctuaries, especially on high holidays such as Pesach, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Later, the performance hall of the First Coed Jewish Primary School was used as a sanctuary. In 1948, the community leaders decided to build a synagogue in the same place. Two young Jewish men named Elyo Ventura and Bernar Motola, who newly graduated from Istanbul Technical University, claimed that such a meaningful structure could only be created with a deep passion, and therefore they should be given this opportunity. After six months of work, their project was accepted by the community.

Elyo and Bernar’s most important challenge was to build a dome that could support a majestic but also massive chandelier. The calculations for the dome within the scope of the project were made by the famous architect Bodin and the cast by the famous Master Garbis. Stained glasses were designed at the Academy of Fine Arts, and the glass used for them was imported from England.

Neve Shalom Synagogue was opened on Sunday, 25 March 1951 (17 Adar 5711), at 10:30 am with a magnificent ceremony, starting with the Baruch Aba prayer recited by Chazan İzak Maçoro, under the leadership of Rabbi Rafael Saban, the Chief Rabbi of the community.

Neve Shalom Synagogue has witnessed many happy events and countless ceremonies since its grand opening, but unfortunately, the most prominent events in its history were the brutal attacks on this beautiful sanctuary.

The first attack was on Saturday, September 6, 1986, while our coreligionists were performing their Shabbat prayers, and where 22 of them lost their lives as a result of the fire opened by the terrorists who got in. The second attack was carried out on Saturday, November 15, 2003, simultaneously with the Şişli Beth Israel Synagogue, once again during a Shabbat prayer. Six of our coreligionists, five security guards, a policeman and eleven citizens in the street lost their lives when terrorists detonated large amounts of explosives carried in their cars right in front of our synagogues.

We commemorate with mercy our coreligionists and citizens who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Neve Shalom in 1986 and 2003.

Beth Israel Synagogue



The synagogue, which was built by reconstructing a yarn factory that was partly used as a parking lot in Şişli, Efe Street in the 1920s, served the Jewish community until the 1940s.

In the 1950s, the Jewish population of Istanbul began to move mainly to Nişantaşı and Şişli districts. As a result, the community decided to purchase the land on which the building used as a synagogue was located. The executive board of the Galata-Beyoğlu-Kasımpaşa-Şişli Community (The Neve Shalom Foundation) board initiated a competition for the construction of the new synagogue building. In 1951, the project and the construction were assigned to architects Aram Deragopyan and Jak Pardo. After getting the necessary permissions and project approval, the groundbreaking ceremony of the synagogue was held on January 25, 1952. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur holidays were celebrated here the very same year, although the interior design was not fully completed yet. The script ‘Kal Kadosh Beth Israel’ on the door of the Synagogue was inscribed by Deragopyan. The crown molding inside the sanctuary and the six-pointed star on the raised platform (bimah) were made by the famous drywall maker Onnik Cezarliyan. The five relief stones on the right and left sides of the building’s façade symbolize the ‘Ten Commandments’. The rectangular central area is covered with a high blue vault representing the sky.

A ‘Mikveh’, ritual immersion pool was added to the Synagogue in 1961. After serving the congregation for a while, the Mikveh was closed down. It was reopened in 2015 with a modern new design and still continues to serve the community.

On the morning of November 15, 2003, a pickup truck loaded with ammunition exploded in front of the synagogue’s back door on Nakiye Ergün Street, causing the death of many people and major damage to the building. The synagogue was reopened in January 2004, after the necessary renovations were completed.

Şaar Aşamayim Synagogue


Considering the increasing number of Jewish families residing in Kemerburgaz-Göktürk, one of the new settlements of Istanbul, and in order to meet their worship needs, the Chief Rabbinate of Turkey opened the Şaar Aşamayim Synagogue after obtaining the necessary permissions from the Eyüpsultan Municipality.

This synagogue, named after the ‘Gate of the Heavens’, has a capacity of 150 people and a large and contemporary dining hall section.

The sanctuary, which opened its doors with a traditional religious ceremony held on Thursday, September 21, 2006, is one of the rare synagogues within walking distance of its coreligionists.

Şaar Aşamayim Synagogue began its renovation process on 13 November 2021 and reopened after a two-week break. It is the first and the only modern and minimalist synagogue of Istanbul thanks to its architectural design.

Ohel Yaakov Synagogue


Since the number of Jewish summer residents who were spending their holidays in Burgazada in the 1950s was small, they had to perform their religious services at their home. With the increase in population in the 1960s, the need to establish a synagogue arose. With the permission obtained in 1968, a synagogue was built on the island. To honor Yaakov Mazon, who had contributed to the establishment and amelioration of the synagogue, it was named ‘Ohel Yaakov’, meaning ‘Yaakov’s Tent’.

This synagogue located in the Adalar (Islands) district was renovated in 2020 and is currently open for services only during summer.

Beth Yaakov Synagogue


In the 1940s, when the number of Jewish families spending their summer in Heybeliada exceeded 250, there was a need for a synagogue on the island. Thereupon, the 698 square meter land in Kuyu District, Orhan Street was purchased in 1947. With the support of Salamon Adato, a member of the Turkish Parliament at that time, Beth Yaakov Synagogue was registered in the name of Galata-Beyoğlu-Kasımpaşa-Şişli Community (The Neve Shalom Foundation) in 1953, and after necessary legal permits were obtained, its construction began.

On Sunday, June 10, 1956, the Synagogue was opened to service with a grand ceremony.

Knesset Israel Synagogue


The Knesset Israel Synagogue was converted into a synagogue when the Union Movie Theater, located on Büyükhendek Street, overlooking the tower square, in the Galata area of the Beyoğlu district, was rented and turned into a sanctuary. The building was opened to service on March 18, 1923, after extensive repair.

Since the synagogue’s entrance was from the Apollon Building, its name remained as the ‘Apollon Synagogue’. It was especially used for funeral ceremonies, and the Maftirim Choir of Jewish people who migrated from Edirne to Istanbul during the Balkan War would sing hymns and psalms here every Shabbat. As a result of a disagreement among building owners in 1982, this synagogue was closed, and an office block was built in its place.


Synagogues Around Istanbul


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Synagogues Around Istanbul