Lecture 1. Synagogues from the Asia and Africa Regions

The history of Judaism in the land of Africa and Asia is a long and storied time, impacting many countries that are relatively close to the city of Jerusalem, and that which is even referenced in the Torah. Thus, the synagogues that have been established in this region range from some of the earliest built structures of its kind, to contemporary ones attempting to bring the structure into the 21st century. The contents of this section will be devoted to an investigation of the continents of Africa and Asia, while it has undergone its own respective development as can be observed through documentation from the past millennia. With this lecture, an examination of case studies that can mostly be found on the northern edges of the African continent and the Western parts of the Asian region will be undertaken. The earlier examples provide the opportunity to analyze how the Jewish religion could endure the situational juxtaposition of competing religions. Passing through the examples, the area of focus will shift to emphasize areas where varying religions are at constant struggle with one another. This trend will precede analysis of the spread of the Jewish religion to areas with increasing Jewish populations and coincide with the spread of information captivating the world in the past few centuries. Observing case examples in such a range of countries will provide information as to how religion can be varied and still showcase similarities. This will become evident in the examples of synagogues, as forms may vary, but certain key features (i.e. the fact that Torah’s must be hand scribed) are required to be present for a synagogue to become operational as indicated in the Torah itself.

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Lecture Notes