Jewish Heritage Europe

Izmir Synagogue Restoration Progress — Beit Hillel Synagogue Restored!

Beit Hillel Synagogue facade after restoration

Work is progressing on the ambitious project to restore the unique complex of synagogues and Jewish sites in Izmir — the latest good news is that the restoration of the Beit Hillel synagogue, which had been dilapidated to the point of collapse, is almost complete after reconstruction works begun in April 2013, and the building will soon open as the Rabbi Chaim Palaci Museum. The restoration was paid by the city  of Izmir.

See a video showing the nearly restored building

Beit Hillel Synagogue before restoration. Photo: Izmir Synagogue project

The synagogue was founded in 1840 in the private home of the Palaci family, a family of famous rabbis.  Rabbi Chaim Palaci and his son, Rabbi Avraham Palache led the community for many years.

The Izmir Project is an international initiative led by the Kiriaty Foundation to save Izmir’s unique complex of synagogues and “create a living cultural monument to the rich Jewish heritage of the city.” It cooperates with the local municipality and the Jewish community to restore and reconstruct seven of Izmir’s synagogues and historic community buildings, and construct a museum with a cultural center.  Four contiguous synagogues within Izmir’s historic bazaar have been designated as the core of the restoration project: Hevra, Algazi, Signora-Giveret and the ruins of the Foresteros synagogue. Combined with two other adjacent synagogues: Etz Chaim and Shalom, in addition the Bikur-Holim synagogue nearby; they form a unique complex of diverse Sephardic synagogue styles.

The new Izmir Jewish Heritage web site has details on the project and on Jewish heritage in Izmir in general, including tourist information and itineraries.

In further news, Nesim Bencoya, the Izmir Site Manager for the Kiriaty Foundation reports that:

— the basement beams supporting the floor of the Algazi Synagogue are being renovated and replaced so as to prevent any collapse. The basement was once used as a temporary geniza and prayer room .

Algazi synagogue basement works. Photo: Izmir Project

— The 16th century Etz Chaim Synagogue’s floor and roof have been stabilized and works to prevent its collapse have been carried out. A full restoration plan is now being prepared by architects.

Etz Chaim synagogue roof support. Photo: Izmir Project
Etz Chaim synagogue roof support. Photo: Izmir Project
Etz Chaim floor support. Photo: Izmir Project




3 comments on “Izmir Synagogue Restoration Progress — Beit Hillel Synagogue Restored!

  1. Haim & Cesar:
    My name is Ina Algaze (maiden name) Getzoff and my cousin, Barbara Algazi and I have been researching the Algazi family history for more than twenty years. My grandfather’s name was Isaac Algazi, born to my knowledge in Istanbul. He married Clara Karako (Carako) also born in Istanbul. They married in 1909 and Isaac came to the US in 1910 and Clara came in 1911. Any chance either of you might have some information on our family to share I would certainly appreciate hearing from you.
    Cesar-I believe you might previously have been in touch with my cousin, Barbara Algazi.

  2. My name is Cesar Algazi son of Abraham and grandson of Isaac Algazi. My grandfather was born in La Habana, Cuba June 15, 1924. His father Abraham was married to Eugenia Perez. They had a son named Moises, Tamar, Sol, Julia and my grandfather Isaac. He was youngest. If you have any information I would greatly appreciate it.

    • Dear Cesar, unfortunately I don’t have information on your family, but I saw your comment and wanted to say that I’m also Algazi. My family is from Tire, possibly originally from Aydin, both are district Izmir, Turkey. Do you know by any chance where Abraham, father of Isaac, was born? if in Turkey, specifically in what city? I have an Isaac (spelled Ishak) in my family, but around 1870. My email is , I would love to hear your family story and see if we can find any familial connection.

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