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Great Synagogue (Rishon LeZion)

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The Great Synagogue in Rishon Lezion was built in 18851889, and was an important center in the life of the moshava. The synagogue stands on a hilltop, at

The Great Synagogue (Rishon LeZion)
בית הכנסת הגדול (ראשון לציון)
AffiliationOrthodox Judaism
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusActive
LocationRishon LeZion
Architect(s)Baruch Papirmeister

the end of Rothschild Street and HaMeyasdim Square at the junction with Ahad Ha'Am Street. The synagogue also hosts visits to the Rishon Lezion Museum.


The construction of the synagogue began in 1885, and encountered opposition from the Ottoman government, and financial distress. To overcome the opposition of the government, the settlers built the synagogue under the guise of a warehouse for agricultural equipment. Zvi HaCohen donated the initial sum for the construction of the synagogue to Levontin[1]. The building was designed by Baruch Papirmeister, who was among the biggest opponents of the Baron's officials. The synagogue was intended for a Hasidic prayer style, but with the Baron's intervention also in the matter of the community's rabbis, the synagogue became the Pharisee version. The synagogue building was completed thanks to a donation from Baron Edmund James de Rothschild. For many years the synagogue was one of the most magnificent buildings in the small moshava and a social center for its settlers. Even after construction was completed, residents were forced to hide the synagogue. So they kept a lot of agricultural equipment in the basement, and as the Turks approached, they filled the prayer hall with this equipment, so that it would not look like a synagogue.

During the British Mandate, the building was renovated, its exterior walls were covered with plaster and painted, and the triangular roof in front of it was converted into a stylish gable that proudly bore the inscription "The Great Synagogue", Star of David and the year of construction - 1855.

In 2013, the mayor of Rishon LeZion, Dov Zur, initiated a renovation of the Great Synagogue and the buildings adjacent to it on Ahad Ha'am Street, as part of an overall facelift of historic Rishon LeZion and the expansion of the Rishon LeZion Museum. The most notable change in appearance is the re-plastering of the synagogue walls.

The Building[edit]

The synagogue has two floors: in the first there is room for 150 worshipers, and in the second there is the women's section. In the windows located on both sides of the ark there are stained glass windows of the 12 tribes of Israel, above which are 2 stained glass windows in the shape of the tablets of the covenant and on which are the 6 days of creation. On the sides of the synagogue there are stained glass windows dedicated to Israeli holidays, including Independence Day. The number of doors and windows in the front is 12, as is the number of the tribes of Israel.

Adjacent to the synagogue is the first Hebrew school, Haviv, as well as the Museum of the History of Rishon Lezion.


  1. Aharonson, Ran (2004). Lekhu Ve Nelekha: Tours of the First Aliyah Moshavas. Yad Ben Tzvi. Search this book on

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