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Lot 99: arly Architectural Drawing of the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue - Jerusalem, 1855

Auction 53 - Rare and Important Items

by Kedem Public Auction House Ltd

15 November 2016

Jerusalem, Israel

Live Auction
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Description: Architectural drawing of the Tiferet Israel (Nissan Beck) synagogue. Jerusalem, May 16, 1855. Ink and watercolor on thick paper. Signed and dated. The drawing portrays the building's facade, profile, and section views of the three floors. "Tiferet Israel" synagogue (known as "Nise's shul" or "Nissan Beck Shul") was the great, central, synagogue of the Hassidic congregations in Jerusalem. Foundation of the synagogue started with the initiative of Rebbe Israel of Ruzhyn, and the synagogue was named after him. In "Igrot Harahak meRuzhyn uBanav", 27, a letter from Rabbi Israel of Ruzhyn from Tishre 5605 [1844] is mentioned; he writes in this letter to the Hassidim in Jerusalem that he got the ownership bill for a plot in Jerusalem to "build a synagogue…as this is my wish and will to have a special synagogue…". Construction of the synagogue was delayed, and only in 1858 the permit to build the synagogue was granted, with the personal requests and efforts on the part of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph. This followed requests by Nissan Beck who turned to the Austrian Consul Pizzamano, asking him to involve the Emperor in the matter. This is a building plan, from 1855, three years prior to receiving the building permit, and it is possible that this plan was submitted to the consul or to Emperor Franz Joseph. The outer beauty of "Tiferet Israel" synagogue was outstanding; both its inner holiness and its outer architecture were magnificent. This was the tallest building in the Jewish Quarter and its dome stood out in the view of the old city, together with the dome of "Beit Ya'akov" synagogue and "Churvat Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid" - by the famous rule that a synagogue has to be built "in the height of the city". Construction lasted nearly 14 years. A well-known legend tells that when Emperor Franz Joseph visited Jerusalem in 1869, en route to the inauguration of the Suez Canal, he visited Jerusalem and saw that the construction of the synagogue is not completed - the walls were there but no roof or dome. The emperor asked his companion Rabbi Nissan Beck [who was the interpreter] where is the roof? - Rabbi Nissan Beck answered wittingly: "the synagogue took off its hat in honor of Your Majesty …". The Emperor smiled and replied that he hopes that the roof will be built soon. The tale continues that the emperor asked: and who is the architect of the building? Nissan Beck replied: "I am the architect". The emperor asked: "Where did you study this profession?" and Nissan Beck replied: "In my private room". Finally the emperor handed the consul a donation of one thousand Florins for finishing the construction of the synagogue. 49.5X69 cm. Good-fair condition. Three missing corners. Some tears at margins. Stains and folding marks.

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