00100 Helsinki 10
The impressive synagogue was designed by the Finnish architect Jac Ahrenberg and built in 1905-1906. It was renovated and enlarged in 1926; its Byzantine-style cupola is a Helsinki landmark. The main façade is articulated by three two-storey windows flanked by rows of circular windows. On the front wall is the inscription from Proverbs 4:2: ‘For I give you good instruction; do not forsake my teaching’. The main sanctuary, located on the first floor above ground level of the building, is a relatively austere rectangular room with elevated side galleries. It culminates in a high decorative ‘triumphal arch’ which spans the Ark. Set over the Ark, within the arch, is a tall Decalogue, flanked by lions and surmounted by a crown. The synagogue seats six hundred in wooden, straight-backed pews surrounding a central Bimah. A library was added at the time of the 1926 enlargement.
The synagogue preserves a wreath presented by Field Marshall Carl G. Mannerheim, President of Finland from 1944-46, in 1944. The wreath memorialized the 23 Jewish soldiers who died in the Finnish-Russian War. There is also a World War II commemorative sculpture by Harri Kivijarvi and Sam Vanni.
The Jewish Community Center, located next to the synagogue, was built in 1967. Facilities include an Old Peoples’ home, an auditorium, meeting rooms, and a Mikveh. The Helsinki Jewish community sponsors a day school here, continuing a tradition that goes back to 1918.
There are two Jewish Cemeteries in Helsinki, both near other burial grounds in the large Hietaniemi cemetery complex. The Old Jewish Cemetery (off Lapilahdentie street) is closed. The New Jewish Cemetery is still in use by the local community and has a large ceremonial hall.
Synagogue and Jewish Center
The two-storey, domed, brick building has a distinctive cupola that can be seen from a distance. Built in 1912, the structure mixes Byzantine and Art Nouveau styles. The exterior is white with an ivory trim. The main prayer hall upstairs has pillars and pews decorated in an Art Nouveau style. A display downstairs includes a Talmud printed in Vilna in 1885, photos of the committee that built the synagogue, a scroll listing the 23 Finnish Jews killed in World War I, and an award from President Mannerheim to Jewish mothers who lost their sons. The adjoining community center was erected in 1956.
The Jewish cemetery is hidden behind a high brick wall with iron gates, standing in the midst of hundreds of Lutheran burial plots. There is a domed ceremonial hall.
There is a small Jewish Cemetery, amid tall trees, enclosed by a hedge in the midst of a Christian Cemetery.