Under Reconstruction!


(VII) Img. ID: 23415 Ha-ktanah Synagogue (Rabbi Pinchas Jana Synagogue) in Djerba, Prayer hall, Djerba, c. 1725 edit  
Category: Jewish Architecture

General Document

2 Name/Title Ha-ktanah Synagogue (Rabbi Pinchas Jana Synagogue) in Djerba | Unknown
3a Object Synagogue
3b Object Detail Prayer hall
4a Artist/ Maker Unknown (Unknown)
5 Date c. 1725
5a Activity Dates
5b Reconstruction Dates
6 Period Husainid dynasty under Ottoman Rule (1705-1881)
6a Period Detail
7 Origin Tunisia | Djerba (Island) | Djerba
8 Community North African | Tunisian | Djerba | Djerba, Hara al-Kabira
9 Collection Unknown |
9a Documentation / Research project Unknown
10 Location Tunisia | Djerba (Island) | Djerba
11 Site Unknown
12 School/Style Southern Tunisian|
13 Iconographical Subject Tribes/Sons of Israel |
14 Category
17 Photographer Radovan, Zev
18 Photograph Date 1997
19 Negative/ Photo. No.
19a Scan No.
20 Description


The prayer hall, located on the northern side of the compound, is contiguous to the open-air courtyard, and is a rectangular basilica of a single floor with a central second clerestorey. Both spaces are reached through the western façade, which borders the alley.  


The basilica comprises a rectangular space surrounded on its east, west and south by colonnades of round columns carrying horse-shoe arches. The columns support a square clerestorey raised above the central space, occupied by the large reader's desk, thus creating a centralised liturgical space (see: main photograph).

The single Torah ark is located in the eastern wall, forming a central east-west axis with the teivah and the main entrance (fig. 2). The sittings are on built benches, which run along the walls and around the reader's desk.

Two cylindrical columns, which were added in 1853, support the ceiling and are built on either side of the reader’s desk (see: Suggested Reconstruction; main photograph and fig. 3).

The clerestorey provides light through twelve windows, three on each side. Each window is marked by a Star of David enclosing the name of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (based on the Book of Zohar part 2, 251:1; main photograph) on the eastern wall: “Reuben, Simeon, Levi”. “Judah, Issachar, Zebulun” are depicted on the northern wall, while”Dan, Naphtali, Gad” are on the western wall. The last three tribes "Asher, Joseph and Benjamin” are placed on the southern wall.

A wooden compartment is built in front of the entrance door. Another entrance to an unidentified rectangular space is on the hall's north-western corner, adjacent to four blind arches, possibly part of the surrounding corridor, which was later blocked. A door leading to a back corridor is set to the right of the eastern wall.

The entire building is painted in blue and white. The walls are in blue with white lintels and cornices. The grooved twisted columns are blue and topped by trapezoid white capitals decorated with a branch in each corner. The Torah ark, reader’s desk and benches are painted in pink and white.

21 Ornamentation
22 Custom
23 Contents
24 Codicology
24a Scribes
24b Script
24c Number of Lines
24d Ruling
24e Pricking
24f Quires
24g Catchwords
24h Hebrew Numeration
24i Blank Leaves

25 Material/Technique
25a Material Structure
25b Material Decoration
25c Material Bonding
25d Material Inscription
25e Material Additions
25f Material Cloth
25g Material Lining
25h Tesserae Arrangement
25i Density
25j Colors
25k Construction Material

26 Measurements
Height: 6.85 m
Width: 8.23 m
Length: 9.90 m

26a Height
26b Length
26c Width
26d Depth
26e Circumference
26f Thickness
26g Diameter
26h Weight
26i Axis
26j Panel Measurements
27 Direction/Location
Axis: west-east
Facade: west
Entrance: west (main), south (side)
Torah ark: east
Apse: not relevant
Niche: east
Reader's Desk: central
Platform: not relevant
Seats: around the walls facing the reader's desk
Women’s section: none
Prayer: facing east
Jerusalem: east
27a Façade (main)
27b Entrances
27c Location of Torah Ark
27d Location of Apse
27e Location of Niche
27f Location of Reader's Desk
27g Location of Platform
27h Temp: Architecture Axis
27i< Arrangement of Seats
27j Location of Women's Section
27k Direction Prayer
27l Direction Toward Jerusalem

28 Coin
28a Coin Series
28b Coin Ruler
28c Coin Year
28d Denomination

29 Signature
30 Colophon
31 Scribal Notes
32 Watermark
33 Hallmark
33a Group
33b Subgroup
33c Hallmark Identification
33d Hallmark Group Classification
33e Hallmark Reference
34 Trade Mark
35 Binding
36 Decoration Program

The names of Jacob’s sons are enclosed within twelve Stars of David, corresponding to the twelve windows in the clerestory.

36 Summary and Remarks

The columns supporting the ceiling were fashioned according to a new mode, prevalent in Tunis in the mid-19th century. 

38 Suggested Reconstruction
The traveler Benjamin the Second, who visited the island in 1853, reports that a flood, which occurred in the same year, destroyed three-thirds of the island. This flood caused severe damage to the roofs of private dwellings and synagogues (Slouschz, Ha-i Pely, 1958, p. 157). Among the ceilings which had collapsed was the ceiling of the Small prayer hall. The synagogue was renovated and the wooden ceiling was replaced by a new one, adding two central columns in order to support and strengthen the ceiling.
It is possible that during this renovation the northern arcade was blocked and supplementary rooms were added.
39 History/Provenance
40 Main Surveys & Excavations
41 Condition
42 Biography
43 Bibliography
• Amar, Ariella, and Jacoby, Ruth. Ingathering of the Nations. Jerusalem: Center for Jewish Art, 1998. • Amar, Ariella. "Synagogues and Ritual Artifacts." In Tunisia, Jewish Communities in the East in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Ed. Haim, Saadoun, 251-268. Jerusalem: Ministry of Education and the Ben-Zvi Institute of Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2005. In Hebrew. • Pinkerfeld, Jacob. Batei HaKneset BeAfrica Hatzefonit: Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik. 1974. • Slouschz, Nahum. Ha-i Pely. Tel Aviv: Dvir. 1958. In Hebrew.
43a Short Name
43b Full Name
43c Volume
43d Page

44 Type
45 Temp: Batch Number
107 | 036
46 Temp: Aleph Number
47 Temp: Sys. Number / Doc. Name
48 Temp: Addenda

Function: Name: Date:
49 Documenter 49a
50 Researcher 50a
51 Architectural Drawings 51a
52 Computer Reconstruction 52a
53 Section Head 53a
54 Editor 54a
55 Donor 55a