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.

Kuzguncuk Bet Yaakov Synagogue

Located an the Asian side of the Bosphorus in the area called Kuzguncuk, just beside a Greek Orthodox church, it was built in 1878. The Jewish population of Kuzguncuk having moved away, it is kept alive by worshippers whose families originated there. Shabbat services on Saturday morning are held regularly. For visits please contact the Chief Rabbinate.

Haydarpasa Hemdat Israel Synagogue

Located in the area called Haydarpasa-Kadikoy on the Asian side, it was opened in 1899. Visits and participation to prayers are possible after contacting the Chief Rabbinate.

Bet El Synagogue (Caddebostan)

Built in 1961 due to the increase of the Jewish population in the area, the Synagogue is the most populated one on the Asian side of the city and visits and participation in prayers is possible by contacting the Chief Rabbinate.

Buyukada Hesed Le Avraam

Located on the biggest of the Princes' Islands, called Buyukada (Prenkipo), the synagogue is open only during the summer when the majority of the Jewish population, of Istanbul comes to spend their summer months. Boats and sea-buses commute regularly from various points in Istanbul to Buyukada. For Information and appointments please contact the Chief Rabbinate.

Heybeliada Bet Yaakov Synagogue

Located an the island called Heybeliada (Halki), it was built in 1953 because in the 1940's there were more than 250 Jewish families passing their summer months on the island.

Burgazada Ohel Yaakov Temple

There were few Jewish families in the 1950's in Burgaz (Antigone), but in the 60's the need to have a Synagogue arose and permission was taken in 1968 to build one. It is open for services only during summer months, like the other synagogues of the Princes' Islands.

Yanbol Synagogue

Built by Jews of Yanbol, Bulgaria, in the Byzantine period, the synagogue has been rebuilt in the 18th century. It is one of the two remaining ancient synagogues of the Balat area.

Ahrida Synagogue (Balat)

Located in Balat near the Golden Horn, built by Jews of Ohri (Macedonia) more than 550 years ago and recently renovated during the Quincentennial Celebrations in 1992, the Ahrida Synagogue is known foremost by its boat-shaped bimah. It can only be visited during weekday mornings.