At the southern point of the great Gironde river on France’s
west coast is the ancient and inviting city of Bordeaux. Once the center of
France’s western Jewish population, it is a city of most religions.
Luckily for us we paid no attention to the guide who told
us that Bordeaux's celebrated synagogue was closed. We found it and while
there were no guides to show us around, this mostly Sephardic (southern)
place of worship was a ‘find’ worth searching for.
As we approached, we could see many people entering the
building in their best party clothes. We were told that a wedding would be
taking place and yet we were invited inside to attend, no questions asked.
We did go in and take some pictures, but we did respect
everyone's privacy and soon left. Later, I would discover that two ladies
from my group actually watched the ceremony and congratulated the bride and
I entered this 1,500-seat house of worship and was awed by
its size, its cleanliness and its architecture. On the floor I noticed two
ceramic designs, one with the Star of David and one with the year 1882, the
year of construction. The street in front is named for a beloved Chief Rabbi
(A Star of David adorns the synagogue)
(The date showing when the Sephardic
synagogue was rebuilt due to fire)
Funding came from the sale of the original land, donations
and The synagogue is now the home of its grants by both the city and
(The synagogue, has a seating capacity of
|During the war it was badly
desecrated and used as a prison for Jews waiting to be sent to
concentration camps. A plaque in the courtyard lists the family
names of those who perished.
synagogue in Bordeaux is one of the largest in France with a length
of thirty meters and a seating capacity of 1,500 worshipers. The
Jewish community exceeds 6,000.
There is a staircase access from the hall to the
women's section located on the first floor, separated from the main
hall by a glass wall according to orthodox tradition. There are two
rows of columns supporting the upper floor. These were made of metal
at the Eiffel shops in Bordeaux. The scrolls and Ark are located,
naturally, at the eastern end of the prayer hall.
There are panels for each of the Ten Commandments and
another one specially designed to depict the twelve tribes of Israel. The
building contains only the best marble, imported from Carrera, Italy.
|The seven-branch menorah captures your view as
you enter. It is located in the center of the room and since it was
all lit up, it gave the massive room a golden glow.
The impressive and inviting building itself was
declared a national monument in 1998. It is lit up on the outside
for all to see after dark.
(The seven-branch menorah captures your
view as you enter the synagogue)
|But there’s more to Bordeaux. It’s
the city of wine therefore it’s a city with excellent restaurants
and hotels. The electric street cars link the city with quiet,
modern and comfortable transportation. Started in 2003, the city
transit system now has 89 stops and carries as many as 250,000
people a day. It can also be exciting to walk around and visit the
special traffic free commercial streets.
can drive from the east through the Dordogne valley through the
great wine centers of St Emilion or Libourne. You can fly from
Merignac airport to most centers in France or you can take a fast
train to or from Paris.
If you have a car, you might want to drive west to a
seaside vacation spot of Arcachon on the west coast. Here you can experience
the climb up the largest natural sand dunes in France. The views are
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)