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Four Sephardic Synagogues


Located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, the Four Sephardic Synagogues form a centuries-old complex of four distinct but adjoining synagogues, each built separately to suit the needs of the expanding Sephardic Jewish populations, with their distinct traditions, as they arrived in Jerusalem from around the Mediterranean and Middle East.

The Yochanan ben Zakai Synagogue was built in the 17th century and sits below ground level for reasons that are still debated today. The Istanbuli Synagogue dates from the 18th century and is the largest of the four. It is used for the inauguration of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. The Eliahu Ha'Navi Synagogue is the oldest, built in the 16th century and named for Elijah the Prophet. The Emtzai Synagogue sits in the middle of the three other synagogues and was possibly once the women's section of the Yochanan ben Zakai Synagogue.

When the Old City fell during the 1948 War of Independence, the Four Sephardic Synagogues were burned and turned into horse stables. When the Old City was recaptured by the Israelis during the 1967 Six Day War, the Synagogues were rebuilt and restored.