What is a Jewish Prayer House

A synagogue is a prayer house in the simplest sense (Bet Tefilla); It is the place where the Jews prayed collectively. Jews can do daily prayer everywhere, but some prayers can only be done in the presence of "minians" (10 adult men). Also, traditionally, praying in groups is more virtuous than praying alone. In this respect, the sanctity of a synagogue comes right after the Holy Temple.

The synagogue is also a learning site (Bet Midrash). Contrary to popular belief, Judaism education does not end after Bar Mitzva (thirteen years). For religious Jews, learning of the sacred texts is a lifelong struggle. For this reason synagogues have libraries containing sacred texts for the learning of congregational individuals. Synagogues are places where children also receive basic religious education.

Many synagogues also have a lounge where religious or non-religious social activities are held. The synagogue is also sometimes used as a meeting room where important issues concerning the community are discussed.

The synagogue also works as a social assistance institution. It collects money or other necessities and helps the poor and needy in the community.

Italian Synagogue - Kal De Los Frankos

Built by the "Comunita Israelitico-Italiana di Istanbul" in 1931. This Synagogue has been rebuilt when the one initially built in the late 1800's was torn down and it is active since then. Only open for Shabbat prayers on Saturday mornings, it can be visited during weekday mornings as well.

Neve Shalom Synagogue

In the 1930s, with the increase in Jewish population living in the Galata and Beyoğlu, the community needed a new place of worship. The new project of architects graduated from Istanbul Technical University,   Elio Ventura and Bernard Motola was accepted and the Neve Shalom synagogue was opened on March 25, 1951 as Istanbul's largest synagogue.

Neve Shalom means "Oasis of Peace" and at the Synagogue open for Shabbat prayers most importantly hosts Jewish ceremonies and commemoration of community members; such as Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, Brit-Mila (circumcision) and funerals and is the largest place of worship of the Jewish Community in Istanbul.

When the primary school located adjacent to the synagogue was moved to its new location in Ulus in1994 the vacant building was transformed into the Neve Shalom Cultural Center in 1998.

On September 6, 1986 during the Saturday morning prayer Palestinian terrorists attacked with hand grenades and machine guns and killed 25 people who were praying in the synagogue at that time.

In November 15, 2003  Saturday morning, terrorists linked to al-Qaida with truck loaded with explosives  blew themselves on the Büyük Hendek Avenue at the same time another one in front of the Sisli Bet Israel Synagoguewhere in total 24 people lost their lives in these attacks. The victims of the terrorist attacks among whom six were Jewish are all commemorated with the special plaque in the Neve Shalom Synagogue entrance hall

Sisli Bet Israel Synagogue

Located in Sisli and part of the Neve-Shalom Foundation, it was initially built in the 1920's and enlarged into its present size in the early 1950's due to the majority of the Jewish population moving to that area. The most populated and active Synagogue today, the Bet-Israel can be both visited or joined for prayers after taking necessary appointments.

Ortaköy Etz Ahayim Synagogue

Located in Ortakoy, near the European leg of the Bosphorus Bridge. When the previous synagogue burned down in 1941 with only the marble Aron-ha-Kodesh remaining, the new synagogue was rebuilt on the location of the then midrash. Visits can be made with previous appointments and both weekday and Shabbat services can be attended likewise.

Kuzguncuk Bet Nissim Synagogue

Built in 1840s in Kuzguncuk with its Ehal-ha-Kodesh dating from the end of 18th century, it was restored and reopened to the public. Visits are possible through appointment from the Chief Rabbinate.