Non-Jewish visitors barred from entry to Kolkata’s synagogues for time-being

The three popular Jewish-synagogues in Kolkata have barred the entry of non-Jewish visitors, probably in the backdrop of the Hamas-Israel battle in the Gaza Strip.

However, there has been no official notification in the matter from the synagogue authorities on this count.

The gates of these synagogues have remained closed round-the-clock for the last few days. They are opened for a limited period to let in the members of the miniscule Jewish community for prayers.

Any non-Jewish visitor these days is stopped at entry gates of the synagogues by the security guards saying that entry has been prohibited for the time being. The guards are also tight-lipped about the reasons behind this move. They also refuse to divulge for how long this ban on visitors will continue.

Even parking facilities in front of these three synagogues have been withdrawn for the last few days.

Regular non-Jewish visitors to these synagogues recall that earlier these prayer houses were open to visitors of all religions for six days a week at a specific time in the day. However, even then people were allowed in after submitting copies of their identification and address proofs at the offices of the synagogues.

These three synagogues namely Magen David, Beth El and Neveh Shalome were popular among the people of the city because of their architectural excellence and beauty.

Of these three synagogues, Neveh Shalome was the first Jewish synagogue to be established in 1831 by Shalome Obaidah ha-Kohen way back in 1831.This is located at Indra Kumar Karnani Street at the famous China Bazar in central Kolkata.

Beth El was established in 1856. This synagogue whose name means ‘The House of God’ was extremely popular for its architectural beauty, especially its stained glass windows and marble staircases, reflecting the rich legacy of European architecture. It is located at Pollock street in the city’s busiest trading hub of Burrabazar in central Kolkata.

Magen David was established in 1884 by the iconic Elias David Ezra, who hailed from the Baghdadi Jewish Community and after whose name Kolkata’s famous trading hub of Ezra Street was named. The Ten Commandments of Moses are written in Hebrew on the walls of Magen David. It is located at Synagogue Street also at Burrabazar in central Kolkata.

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