Many would not have thought that Singapore has its own synagogue too, but indeed there is a very nice synagogue in Singapore called Maghain Aboth, dedicated to the small Jewish community and of course for the visiting of Jewish tourists in Singapore.
The Maghain Aboth Synagogue was set up by three men in the first Jewish quarter of Singapore which can be found on the South side of the Canal Road located at the Waterloo Street close to the Rocher Planning area. According to Jewish belief synagogue has to be in walking distance to the believers’ home. The building of the Maghain Aboth Synagogue was built back in 1878 and it was extended in 1924 to get its form and size of today. Maghain Aboth means in Hebrew the “Shield of Our Fathers”. The area where it stands is the oldest settlers’ area of Singapore. The synagogue has become an official national monument of Singapore on 1998. The synagogue represents the cultural and religious life of Jews and had been built in a mixed Colonial-Victorian architectural style.
The interior of a synagogue largely resemble to the Muslim mosque. Here two there are two separate entrances and two separate areas for men and women, with the women being at a higher set balcony. There is a mikvah which is the spiritual bath also used by Jews in a similar style as the wudu bath in the Islam religion. This is for the ritual cleaning before the prayer. The Maghain Aboth Synagogue has a triple-volume ceiling with quite rustic style walls and the traditional columns that can be found in all synagogues together with the specific pulpit called “bemah” from where the Rabbi or prayer leader chants and reads from the holy book of Jews, the Torah. The Ark of the bemah also much face toward Jerusalem. The Ark is covered with an embroidered parochet or curtain and has a Menorah the traditionally Jewish candleholder on it the Ark’s special niche is used to hold the Menorah while it has been read by the Rabbi. As all synagogues in the world, the Maghain Aboth Synagogue is also positioned towards Jerusalem the holy place of both the Jewish and also the second of importance as a holy place for the Islamic religion too. The balcony serving as the praying place for the women, was later added to the synagogue.
We can see the traditionally used oil lamps hanging down from the ceiling in order to make believers remember the past and also remembering those who passed away. The synagogue gives a great chance for also non-Jewish in order to learn more about the Jewish culture. There are Jewish festivals held regularly in the synagogue and of course, every religious feast is celebrated here. The synagogue is open all year long with the exceptions of Mondays. The main prayer is every Saturday the holy day of Jewish of the week.