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Ohel Leah Synagogue, Hong Kong

3.3




The Ohel Leah Synagogue (Hebrew: בית הכנסת אהל לאה Beit Ha-Knesset Ohel Leah) and its next-door neighbors, the Jewish Recreation Club and the Jewish Community Center, have formed the center of Jew social and religious life in Hong Kong for over a century. Originally the community was mostly Baghdadi and the synagogue was under the superintendence of the Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation of London: it is now fully independent and has members from across the Jewish diaspora.


Most of Hong Kong's Jews live only a short distance away from the Synagogue, which sits at the junction of Robinson Road and Castle Road. An example of Colonial Sephardic architecture, the two-storied, whitewashed, multi-turreted Synagogue nestles amid the soaring high-rises of steel and glass perched on the Mid-Levels of Hong Kong Island. The Synagogue was designed by the architects Leigh & Orange and was erected in 1901–1902. It underwent a US$6 million restoration in 1998 which returned its interiors and exteriors to their original state.


The name Ohel Leah commemorates Leah Sassoon, the mother of the Sassoon brothers Jacob, Edward, and Meyer who donated the land for building the Synagogue. The Sassoons were among the earliest Sephardic merchants from India to settle in Hong Kong during the mid to late 19th century.


Ohel Leah is a Modern Orthodox congregation and received its first officially appointed rabbi in 1961. Three other Jewish congregations have also emerged more recently in Hong Kong: the Sephardic, which is dominated by Israeli expatriates; the Chabad Lubavitch; and the United Jewish Congregation, which is aligned with the more liberal Reform and Conservative movements. Many worshippers, however, hold concurrent memberships in several congregations.
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Ohel Leah Synagogue Reviews
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  • The Jewish Synagogue was built by Sir Jacob Sassoon in 1902 and funded by the Kadoorie family in 1905. It was refurnished in 1998. In 2000, the UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards recognized the Reservation...  more »
  • This is the only Jewish synagogue in Hong Kong. Despite of its historic value, it is not open to the public except during prayers. It is also quite far away from Central.  more »
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  • The Ohel Leah Synagogue (猶太教莉亞堂 / 猶太廟) was built in 1901, and is the only surviving Jewish prayer house still in active use in China. The Synagogue is also the only one of this type of religious buildings so far to exist in Hong Kong. The Sassoon brothers, Iraq-born Jews who were prominent merchants, donated the site and bore the construction cost of the Synagogue in dedication to their mother, Mrs. Leah Elias Sassoon. Ohel Leah Synagogue is an elegant mix of Classical, Baroque and Italianate Renaissance architectural features externally, with a lavish and grandiose interior with Jewish secular features and decorations. Craftsmanship is of a high order. Externally, Classical architectural features are predominant particularly at the entrance porch with its Serliana or Palladian openings and Baroque style towers on either side of the Vestibule.
  • Great synagogue and safe Jewish spot. Surrounded by the JCC it integrates nicely within the Jewish life. More than a hundred years old, the synagogue gives you a glimpse into the early Jewish presence in HK during the colonial period. It has a nice balance between Sephardic features and English architecture. To access to it , you need to go through the security check at the JCC entrance, so make sure to bring your id or passport along, to make sure you can visit it.
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