Sanctuary and Synagogue

Dedication of The Portuguese Synagogue
(Congregation Talmud Torah)

Drawn by Romeyn de Hooghe

Dedication of The Portuguese Synagogue(Congregation Talmud Torah)

On August 2, 1675, the eve of Shabbat Nahamu, the Portuguese Jews of Amsterdam gathered to celebrate the dedication of their magnificent new synagogue known as the Esnoga. A week of festivities ensued, which included sermons delivered by the most eminent rabbis of the community.

This commemorative etching depicts the initial moments of the celebratory dedication. As the choir sang, and young men held lit tapers aloft, leaders of the community carrying lavishly bedecked Torah scrolls circled the sanctuary three times. The hazzan (cantor), seen at center, recited prayers for the government and the scrolls were placed into the ark. Inscribed in medallions on either side of the print are the names of the members of the Mahamad (governing board of the community) and the building committee. At the top of the print, centered between an exterior view and a floor plan, is a symbolic representation of Dutch religious tolerance. Personifications of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, Judea, the High Priest and Freedom of Worship are depicted above the phrase: Freedom of Worship is the Mainspring of the Republic.