This spacious Sephardic synagogue is named for a 14th-century Spanish scribe whose Torah scrolls found their way here with the Spanish Jewish exiles 200 years later. A look around reveals several differences between this synagogue and its Ashkenazi counterparts: for example, the walls are painted the lively blue typical of Sephardic tradition, and the benches run along the walls instead of in rows (so that no man turns his back on his neighbor).
Every detail is loaded
with significance. There are three arks—for the three forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the one on the right is said to be the Abuhav original)—and 10 windows in the dome, referring to the Commandments. The charmingly naive illustrations on the squinches include a depiction of the Dome of the Rock (referring to the destruction of the Second Temple) and pomegranate trees, whose seed-filled fruit symbolizes the 613 Torah Commandments. The original building was destroyed in the 1837 earthquake, but locals swear that the southern wall—in which the Abuhav Torah scroll is set—was spared.
Abuhav St., Tzfat, 1324744, Israel