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Look through our windows – stained glass scenes
“The original Central Synagogue opened in London in 1855 and in 1869 it was transferred to its present site in Great Portland Street where the foundation stone was laid by Baron Lionel de Rothschild. The construction of the magnificent building with its ornate architecture was finished in just one year. In 1941 it was completely destroyed by enemy bombing and the rebuilding commenced in 1956. The consecration of the new Synagogue took place on the 23rd March 1958.
The stained glass windows were designed by the Master Artist Rabbi David Hillman who monitored their manufacture down to the last detail and supervised their installation over a period of 15 years. Many were funded by members of the Synagogue in memory of departed parents and family.
This is the largest display of David Hillman’s work on one building. The windows measure 3m x 1.75m and portray fine scenes from the Old Testament or Jewish festivals. Each is unique and features verses from the Bible interwoven with a particular theme. The centre panel focuses on an event associated with the main picture thus revealing a ‘story within a story’.
I was unable to trace any of the original drawings of the windows in the Synagogue archives nor with the artist’s family, hence my decision to photograph them and prepare this record for posterity. It took me just a few days to photograph the vision that took David Hillman 15 years to complete.”
Excerpt from the Introduction of ‘The splendours of the Central Synagogue, London – A Pictorial Study of the Stained Glass Windows by David Hillman’ by Mr Leonard Fertleman (2010)[Copies of the book are available from the Synagogue Office]