Garnethill Synagogue is Scotland’s first purpose-built Synagogue and is a Category A listed building. An example of high Victorian architecture, it was designed by John McLeod of Dumbarton, in consultation with Nathan Joseph, a London Jewish Architect. McLeod designed a number of churches and public buildings, including the Women’s Christian Association on Bath Street and the fruit warehouses of Simons, Jacob & Co, headed by Benjamin and Michael Simons, both leaders in the Jewish community. The building exterior is Romanesque Revival and inside contains elements of Moorish, Romanesque and Gothic styles, with some Byzantine features.
The Prayer Hall has seating for approximately 500 worshippers. The focal point of the Synagogue is the Holy Ark (Aron Kodesh), set in an apse in the Eastern Wall, facing Jerusalem, housing the Torah Scrolls in which the Five Books of Moses are hand written on parchment. A domed window above the Ark has a panel on which are written the first two Hebrew words of each of the Ten Commandments.
The building is currently managed by the Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust and houses the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre and the Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre, which includes the Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre.
Garnethill Synagogue Preservation Trust (GSPT) was set up in 2012 as a registered charitable company. It looks after the fabric of the building at Garnethill, which is also the home of The Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, Garnethill Hebrew Congregation and the newly-opened Scottish Jewish Heritage Centre, which incorporates the Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre. The synagogue remains an active place of worship, and information on services can be found on the website of the Garnethill Hebrew Congregation.
Tours Sunday @ 10:30am, 11:40am, 12:50pm, 14:00pm, 15:10pm
Tour duration: 50 minutes