Ibn Danan Synagogue

Fès, Morocco

Ibn Danan Synagogue

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The Ibn Danan Synagogue (Arabic: معبد ابن دنان, Hebrew: בית הכנסת אבן דאנן) is a synagogue in Fes, Morocco, dating from the 17th century. It was built by Mimoun Ben Sidan, a wealthy merchant from the town of Ait Ishaq. The synagogue is located in the Mellah district within Fes el-Jdid, one of the components of the historic medina of Fes.

The synagogue was once only one of several inside the walls of Fes, and not the most elaborate. It is entered through a simple doorway indistinguishable from the doors of nearby houses. The door leads immediately to a short flight of stairs that lead into the high, rectangular space of the synagogue. The construction is masonry coated with plaster. The wooden ceiling is beamed and painted. The room is lit by small windows high in the walls. Photos taken in 1954 show a ceiling hung with numerous memorial lamps, now vanished. The walls are wainscotted with blue figured Moroccan tiles. The large Torah Ark, a cupboard filling the width of an entire wall, is made of carved wood. The wall above is decorated with intricately carved plaster work. Opposite the Torah Ark is a raised alcove, separated from the main prayer space by a wooden screen elaborately carved with a series of arches. It was intended as a seating area for the congregations more distinguished members. The bimah is accessed from this space, constructed as a small platform cantilevered out form the raised area. The wooden bimah is topped by a wrought iron canopy of Islamic-style arches and floral forms, culminating in a crown.

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