The Synagogue

No sooner than I last posted about the Amsterdam Liberal Jewish Synagogue for Hannukah, that I found myself crossing the bridge and welcomed inside. I would finally see the magnificent menorah windows from within. 

The wonderful bouwheer Luc Stranders gave me a tour beyond the windows and of the entire building, from the bottom hidden corners to the top seat in the house. He explained every detail to exhaustion, and the immensity of symbolism. He began, “This is a building within a building. So it was built.” 

Surrounded by a moat of water, it rests on new ground. Everyone is welcome. Across the threshold are two levels of skylight windows, bringing the sky onto a cement wall with steep curves on one side.

From outside, the whole thing looks like a square block. It is so imposing that it can easily misfigure. It is actually far longer than wide – 52 meters long, 17 wide. This is important in the design of the spectacular prayer hall. It can house more than 850 people for prayer, and by its design, whether you are on the ground level or the very top floor, can look one another in the eye. You are close together as many. The world’s first menorah windows (and still today, one of two) are on both sides, fitting on the upper levels to bring light to everyone, but privacy with custom made curtains figuring the Tree of Life. The whole place is flooded with light, also by the skylight above. Where many religious buildings tend to stay discreet from the outside, these enormous windows announce the building’s purpose with pride. 

But there was so much more than the windows. The building is a synagogue, meeting point, school for mitzvahs, community center, and working office. It has a synagogue, classrooms, a mikveh, and a boardroom. Bricks from the previous synagogue were salvaged to frame its gold door, connecting the old with the new. The main sitting area and library houses a first edition Anne Frank diary, gifted by her father. Everywhere inside, like outside, Stars of David are dotted all around. 

Liberaal Joodse Gemeente
Zuidelijke Wandelweg 41

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