A review of our July visit by Beryl Plent

The word synagogue means 'meeting place', which was most appropriate when over forty of our Society's members met to enjoy an evening visit and a talk by Dr Moss at the Princes Road Jewish temple.

The first Jewish community in Liverpool arrived in 1710, and a synagogue was built in the town in 1748. By the 1780s the congregation was housed in a terraced property in Frederick Street. Ever mindful that places of worship should be within walking distance, another was sited in Hope Place with, next door, the first Jewish school. This closed in 1937 and the building, minus its dome, is now the Unity Theatre.

William and George Audsley, architect brothers from Edinburgh, built Princes Road Synagogue at a cost of £14,975 8s 11d. It was consecrated on September 2nd 1874. The Moorish and Gothic exterior belies the richness of the interior, which glows with colour. Massive wooden doors are opened to reveal glossy dark wood and gold ornamentation, a flower-painted ceiling above multi-colour marble columns in reds and greens. Painted cast iron columns support the gallery, where the ladies traditionally sit. The choir stalls are below a large rose window. All has been painstakingly restored after extensive fire damage in 1980.

We learnt something of the style of worship - of the Torah, or book of laws (some of which weigh 40 lbs) handwritten on scrolls of goatskin - why there are no representations of animals or humans (which could be construed as idol worship) - that the six-pointed star of David is not a religious symbol but that of the Zionists - and that a prayer shawl is worn only by boys after the age of 13.

Highly entertaining - and almost akin to a theatre visit - Dr Moss's talk nevertheless conveyed to us the power and strength of the Orthodox Jewish faith.

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