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(All synagogues are Orthodox and follow the Gibraltarian/Moroccan Sefardi nusah)


Weekday services almost invariably take place in one of two synagogues.  During the Autumn, Winter and early Spring seasons, services are held in Nefutsot Yehuda. During the late Spring & Summer, services take place at Sha’ar Hashamayim.

When Gibraltar was captured in 1704, one of the main problems facing Prince George of Hesse was the difficulty in obtaining fresh food for his forces. So he encouraged a number of Jewish merchants from the Spanish speaking community of Tetuan (in Morocco) to come to Gibraltar with supplies. This also brought to Gibraltar their correspondents from European centres like London, Amsterdam, Leghorn (Livorno) and even Lisbon. The latter were particularly interesting as in their own country they had to live as Roman Catholics for fear of the Inquisition. But once abroad they did not hesitate to profess the Jewish religion in public.

During the first few years, the Jews in Gibraltar had a synagogue in a private house or warehouse in La Calle que va a la Plazuela de Juan Serrano; (now Bomb House Lane) until they were expelled in 1717 in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht. However, Britain and Spain were soon at war again and as supplies from Morocco once again became necessary they were re-admitted in 1719.

During the first few years they held their services in private accommodation, but in 1723 Colonel Hargrave, who was in command, granted a piece of waste ground at the back of Engineer Lane for the building of a synagogue.

 

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SHA’AR HASHAMAYIM - Esnoga Grande or Great Synagogue

47/49 Engineer Lane (Box 174), Gibraltar
Tel: (350) 200 74030
Presidents: Moses Benamor, Mesod Belilo, Moses Benady
Secretary: Gabriel Belilo

The first grant was made to Isaac Netto, who was a merchant in Gibraltar for many years and also acted as secretary to Hargrave. Netto was born in Leghorn in 1687. He was taken to London at a young age by his father, Rabbi David Nieto, when the latter became Haham (Rabbi) of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews Congregation in Bevis Marks, London. Isaac had been trained as a rabbi by his father. The London Congregation was an offshoot of the Sephardi synagogue in Amsterdam which was formed by refugees from the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition in the 16th and 17th centuries and had a very similar order of service.


Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue, Gibraltar

After the Gibraltar synagogue was built many of the Moroccan Jews continued meeting in their own makeshift groups and the Esnoga Grande became known as ‘The Dutch Synagogue’. The original building was entered through Synagogue Lane (now Serfaty’s Passage) and was a single storey building. Netto was not only the founder but also the religious leader of the Gibraltar Jewish Community and he named the synagogue after his father’s synagogue in Bevis Marks, London.
The original building was destroyed during the great rainstorm of 1766, as a result of which some 80 people drowned. It was rebuilt in 1768 on a larger plan (the date in Hebrew can still be seen on the facade) and the entrance in Engineer Lane dates from this period. This building was destroyed by gunfire on 17 May 1781, during the Great Siege. The synagogue was later rebuilt but had to be reconstructed again in 1812 after it had been damaged by a fire and the present vaulted ceiling dates from that time.
The Esnoga Grande is the principal synagogue in Gibraltar.

 

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ETS HAYIM - Esnoga Chica or The Little Synagogue

91, Irish Town (P.O. Box 31), Gibraltar
Tel: (350) 200 75563 
President: David Benaim
Hazan: Sammy Benaim

The meat market used to be where the Police Station now stands in Irish Town and its name is preserved in Market Lane and Zoca Flank Battery by the Catholic Community Centre. A number of the Jewish merchants used to meet in the Yeshiva or talmudic academy of Ets Hayim which was situated conveniently close by.


Ets Hayim Synagogue, Gibraltar


In 1759 it was also turned into a synagogue and its popular name of Esnoga Chica distinguished it from the Great Synagogue.
This building must have been destroyed during the Great Siege and rebuilt subsequently.

 

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NEFUTSOT YEHUDA - Esnoga Flamenca or Flemish Synagogue

65 Line Wall Road, Gibraltar
Tel: (350) 200 76477 
Presidents: Sam Benzaquen & Isaac Beniso
Secretary: Raphael Benzaquen

In time, Moroccan influence prevailed in the Esnoga Grande and a number of its members decided to build a new synagogue which would revert to the old Dutch customs and order of service. The years from 1793 onwards were ones of great prosperity in Gibraltar as a result of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars and the Gibraltar merchants became very wealthy through their ownership of privateers and dealing in the rich enterprises they brought into the Port of Gibraltar. So a grand new building was constructed for a sum of $26,300 (almost £6,000 at the time) on a garden that Shemtov Sequerra, a local Jewish merchant, had bought from John Crusoe. The building was opened for worship in March 1799. The old palm tree in the Courtyard is all that remains of the garden in which the synagogue was built.


Nefusot Yehuda Synagogue, Gibraltar

The Dutch bell gable can still be seen. The interior was gutted by fire in the early years of the 20th century, and was rebuilt by an Italian architect. This building is therefore, a mixture of styles, Dutch outside and Italian inside, with the reading desk (teva or bima) built into the ark (hehal) instead of being separated as is more usual in Sephardi Synagogues.
From its foundation until 1882, the minister of the synagogue was a member of the Conquy family. Those who have read John Masters’ book, THE ROCK, will remember that the story revolves round the adventures of the Conquy family, who were supposed to have been the original inhabitants of Gibraltar. In fact, the Conquy family came to Gibraltar from Amsterdam in the 18th century.
The family had originated in the city of Cuenca in Spain. The extent to which the congregation of Nefustot Yehuda went to keep to Dutch customs is demonstrated by the fact that in the early years of the synagogue, the ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts) used were sheets taken from a printed book with numbered pages, instead of the hand-illuminated parchments generally used in Gibraltar.

 

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ESNOGA ABUDARHAM - Abudarham Synagogue

P.O. Box 190, 19 Parliament Lane, Gibraltar
Tel: (350) 200 77789
President: Solomon Levy, MBE
Secretary: David Joseph (Billy) Abudarham

In 1820, there was another breakaway movement in the Great


Abudarham Synagogue, Gibraltar

Synagogue. This time new immigrants from Morocco wanted to have a synagogue which was smaller and less formal than the Gibraltar institutions. This led to the conversion of the Yeshiva of RabbiSolomon Abudarham (who had died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1804) into a synagogue. This building had previously been the Freemasons’ Hall which is why Parliament Lane is still known as ‘Callejon de los Masones’ (the Freemasons’ Street). It is possible that the building had been the seat of the municipal council in Spanish times.

 

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TALMUD TORAH - Children's Synagogue


Talmud Torah, Gibraltar

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