שבת ט' בכסלו תשפ"ג 03/12/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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In Jewish Sites

The Synagogue of the Ramchal in Acco

One of the ancient synagogues that still stands in Acco is the ‘Ohel Chaim’ Synagogue, also known as the Synagogue of the Ramchal.

Mordechai Zeevi 20/04/2009 12:00

In the heart of the old city of Acco, at the end of Market Street, in a small and narrow alley-way, stands the synagogue called ‘Ohel Chaim’; the Ramchal’s synagogue.

The building itself is small and cramped, whose design is according to the style of the synagogues of Padua, Italy, the city of birth of the Ramchal. Inside, the sanctuary has been constructed on two levels, following the custom that those praying should stand in a low place, according to the verse in Tehillim; “from the depths I call out to You”.

In the mid-eighteenth century ce, Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal, ascended to Eretz Yisrael. At that time, two synagogues existed in the city of Acco; one the ‘Achav’ synagogue, the second being that associated with the tradition that the Ramchal followed.

The history of the Ramchal synagogue is riddled with contradictions and confusion. It is an accepted fact that one of the synagogues is the centre of a dispute as to its exact identity, but it is not clear which of the two buildings is the one in question. This synagogue was destroyed by the Bedouin ruler of Acco of the time, Dahr al Omar, in approximately the year 5518. Upon the ruins, the ruler erected a mosque, subsequently known as ‘Al-Muelek’, which translates as ‘the suspended’, apparently in reference to its location on the ruins of the destroyed synagogue building.

The debate centres over the identity of the destroyed synagogue; there are those who argue that it was the Achav synagogue that was destroyed, and that therefore the second synagogue, known as the Ramchal synagogue, was in fact the one in which the Ramchal prayed when he lived in Acco. Others, however, assert that it was the Ramchal’s synagogue that was destroyed, and that the building today known as the Ramchal’s synagogue is a new building that the Bedouin ruler permitted the Jews to build as a replacement for the one destroyed. According to this view, the Ramchal never davened in either of the synagogues currently standing; the location of the synagogue that he prayed in is buried under the mosque.

Those who argue that the destroyed synagogue was the Achav synagogue bring as proof evidence from the beginning of the eleventh century ce, that the Ramban gave over his speeches in that building, when he ascended to the Holy Land and lived for a while in Acco. According to this view, the Ramchal synagogue was built in a later period, several hundred years after the passing of the Ramban.

The synagogue of the Ramchal is also known as ‘Ohel Chaim’, after its famous benefactor, the nobleman Chaim Farchi. Chaim Farchi was an adviser to the Turkish Sultan, and led the resistance to the invasion of the French armies under Napoleon. Even today it is still possible to find remains in the streets of Acco, of the destruction wrought by the fighting of that time in the area.

Currently, the ownership of the site of the destroyed synagogue is a matter of dispute, both Jews and Muslims claiming possession. The Jews demand the restoration of the site to their hands, but the Muslims deny that any synagogue ever stood there under the mosque, and claim that the mosque is the only building that was ever erected on the site.

The building known today as the Ramchal synagogue stands near the market-place, in the heart of the Muslim residential area of Acco. Anyone wishing to visit it should make arrangements in advance with the gabbai of the synagogue.