FLORENCE – Restoration of the synagogue,
the work is complete
New projects announced, from Siena to Livorno

After several months, the facade and left tower of the Synagogue of Florence have finally been cleared of the scaffolding. The end of a restoration set off by the finding of some structural fragilities has officially been certified with a ceremony in the premises of the Jewish Community of Florence. It was an opportunity to thank the donors who contributed from Italy and other countries and to outline new initiatives in Tuscany which will involve Jewish organizations, public institutions, and private foundations. The projects range from the on-going restoration on the Synagogue of Siena, damaged in 2023 by an earthquake, to the project to place in Livorno’s Piazza Elia Benamozegh the portal of the port city’s ancient synagogue, considered among the most beautiful in the world, which was demolished at the end of World War II due to extensive damage.

The gratitude of the Jews of Florence
“We had a complicated period, if we are managing to overcome it is mainly thanks to two entities: the Opera del Tempio Ebraico (the body that oversees the repair, maintenance, and restoration of the synagogue and other Jewish heritage sites in Tuscany) in Florence, with its president Renzo Funaro who has been committed to our sides for decades, and the Community Council, specifically in the figure of Brett Lalonde. They have launched support campaigns organized with enthusiasm and new fundraising techniques”, said the president of the Jewish Community Enrico Fink.
In this sense, the support received is a confirmation “that we are a piece of Florence, Italy, Europe and the world” and that when necessary “the world” knows how to be supportive. Words of gratitude also came from the chief rabbi, Gadi Piperno, who explained, “You haven’t restored a monument, but a beautiful and important place for what it conveys with the Torah, what protects us as Jews the most.”
Remotely connected were representatives of the David Berg Foundation, the Leon Levy Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, the European Investment Bank, and CR Florence Foundation. “In just a few months, funds were found for the restoration just completed in Florence and which we inaugurate with you today,” said Lalonde, joining the gratitude expressed by president Fink. Other funds will, on the other hand, will ensure an “almost total” coverage for the restoration of the Synagogue of Siena, which has been listed just a few days ago by Europa Nostra as “one of the seven endangered heritage sites in Europe for 2024” and for this reason will receive a dedicated funding.

New projects
Among the next initiatives of the “Opera del Tempio Ebraico” are the restoration of some of the decorations in the Synagogue of Florence and of the Jewish cemeteries in Florence, Siena and Monte San Savino. “The cemeteries, stressed architect Funaro, are the historical memory of our communities, as in each tombstone there is a family history.” Taking action is urgent, “a fight against time,” also because of the “atmospheric threats” which put at risk the preservation of these sites.
Funaro also announced a further challenge for the future under his coordination: the rearrangement and reconstruction of the portal of the monumental Temple of Livorno “which was for centuries one of the most beautiful synagogues in Europe.” The central portal survived WWIII devastation and demolition with the inscription that reads “This is the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” The goal is “to reassemble it in front of the present temple,” built with modern standards and inaugurated in 1962. To this end, «we will ask for help both on a national and international level”, the architect said. The project will see the municipal administration, the Jewish Community and the Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Italy working side by side.


Translated by Chiara Tona and revised by Marta Gustinucci, students at the Advanced School for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste, trainees in the newsroom of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – Pagine Ebraiche.