About the project
The Four Sephardi Synagogues is a complex of interconnected buildings that includes the Yochanan Ben Zakai Synagogue, the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, the Istambuli Synagogue and the Central or Middle Synagogue that developed over hundreds of years beginning in 1586. During the Jordanian occupation of the city, the synagogues were used as warehouses and a donkey stable. The buildings were severely damaged and their contents looted. The Jerusalem Foundation supported a major restoration of the synagogues in 1972. Work, which was overseen by architect Dan Tanai, included repair of the synagogues’ walls and vaults, reconstruction of historic details, addition of ritual objects from Italian synagogues destroyed during World War II, and introduction of new features, including ark doors designed by Boris Schatz, founder of the Bezalel School of Art. The project was the first restoration of a historic site within the Old City following the city’s 1967 reunification. The synagogues now serve both Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities.