Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein has decided that the synagogue in the parliament building will be expanded and undergo extensive renovation.
The three prayer sessions held in the synagogue each day are attended by dozens of people, and Torah lessons are also held in it.
The synagogue was opened some 50 years ago, with the dedication of the new Knesset Building, and over the years it has become too small to fit all those who wish to pray in it. As part of the renovation, the 65 square meter synagogue will be expanded to 100 square meters. During special prayer days, the partitions separating the synagogue and nearby Sprinzak Hall will be removed so that the synagogue`s space will reach 230 square meters.
The renovation of the entire first floor, including the synagogue, is expected to be completed towards the opening of the 20th Knesset`s Winter Assembly, immediately after the High Holidays. As part of the renovation, an energy-efficient green lighting system will be installed, in addition to a fire alarm and sprinkler system.
The Holy Ark in the synagogue, which has been transferred to restoration experts, was donated to the Knesset with the assistance of Shlomo Umberto Nahon, who worked during the 1950s to bring Holy Arks from Italy to Israel. The Holy Ark in the Knesset`s synagogue was brought to Israel from the town of Soragna in northern Italy.
”The expansion of the synagogue is gladdening and heart-warming, in the sense of `Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide,`” Speaker Edelstein said. ”[The expansion] is an expression of the fact that the number of people who visit the synagogue has grown over the years. As someone who visits the synagogue nearly every day, I have seen with my own eyes the crowdedness and the need to allow all the worshippers to enter the gates [of the synagogue] rather than be satisfied with standing at its threshold. Like all of us, I am waiting to see the results of the synagogue`s renovation, befitting our House of Representatives.
Click here to view photo of the Holy Ark in the Knesset synagogue