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Dunedin Synagogue

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Dunedin Synagogue


Basic Information

Location 45°52′31″S 170°30′09″E
Country New Zealand
City Dunedin

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment yes
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates -45.87526,170.50255


Dunedin's first Jewish congregation assembled in January 1862 in the home of H.E. Nathan on George Street. With 43 members, it was clear that a more permanent base was needed-a site on Moray Place (an octagonal street which surrounds the city center). A synagogue, designed by W. H. Sumner, was built and opened in September of 1863. This building was used until 1881, by which time it had proved to be too small for the growing congregation. The building was sold to the Freemasons, who occupied it until 1992 as a Masonic Lodge. Since that time, it has been a private residence, and contains an art gallery (the Temple Gallery). This structure is the southernmost permanent site, past or present, of a synagogue in the world.

History and time period

Second synagogue: Plans to move to a larger synagogue were being made by 1875. By this time, the congregation had grown to the point that the new synagogue was to be one of the largest in the southern hemisphere, and one of the largest places of worship of any denomination in Dunedin. The new building, opened in 1881, was built almost directly across Moray Place from the first synagogue, and was an impressive design by Louis Boldini, with a facade ornamented by a series of Doric columns. The building was capable of holding a congregation of 600 people. This building served as the city's synagogue until 1965, when the now dwindled congregation moved to a new, smaller building on George Street. The Boldini synagogue was sold to the Y.M.C.A. and was demolished shortly afterwards to make way for a new Y.M.C.A building. The site of this structure is now that of a multistory car park building.

Third synagogue: The current (third) synagogue, was erected in 1965 in Dunedin North, not far from the University of Otago. A more modest building than its predecessors, the building is compact, and utilitarian, but not unattractive, and is constructed of concrete block. It was designed by John Goldwater, a Jewish architect from New Zealand who also designed more famously, the Auckland Jewish Community Centre. As with its predecessors, it lays claim to being the world's southernmost permanent synagogue.

Photo Gallery

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