Thanks to Marjorie Searl for a translation of the Hebrew inscription on the Hemdat Israel Synagogue.
“Thanks to crowdsourcing and my friend Miriam… The top two lines are quotes from the Hebrew Bible:
The top line is Isaiah 56:7 “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Second line is Psalm 118:19 “Open for me the gates of righteousness. I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.” (Translations courtesy of Bible Hub).
The third line says “This building was finished at the end of the month of rachamim” (which could refer to the month of Elul).
The month of Elul in the Hebrew calendar comes right before the Jewish High Holidays; therefore there is much preparation for the repentance involved with those observances. The Hebrew word “rachamim,” the last word in the third line reading from right to left, means mercy…the month of Elul is often referred to as the month of rachamim, or mercy, as the prayers and observances relate to the asking for God’s mercy as we repent and ask forgiveness.
So, it suggests that the synagogue was completed just before the Jewish New Year and High Holidays, which makes sense, as it would be very important to have the first observance in the new synagogue at the time of these important celebrations. It must have been an incredibly festive way to begin the New Year of 1898. Elul is in August/September, depending on the variations of the lunar calendar. Rosh Hashanah (it means “the head of the year) opens the Jewish New Year and High Holiday observance typically in September; so no doubt the building was done by early September 1898.
So, there you have it! Thank goodness for friends and Facebook! This was fun.”
Given the current state of relations in the Middle East, it’s a little sad to see how closely related the Hebrew and Arabic languages are. I noted in the previous post that the Hebrew letters for ‘Hemdat’ are believed to have been a subtle way of paying thanks to the Ottoman Sultan Abdül Hamid II. The Arabic word for ‘mercy’, ‘rahim’, is also used in Turkish, and the month of September is ‘Eylül’.