Nov 5, 2009

I was still in Marais area, 4 th arrondissement. I was standing at 10,rue Pavée. It's Agudath Hakehilot, an orthodox synagogue. It's my first time seeing the synagogue. Designed by Hector Guimard, the Art Nouveau architect and decorator famous for the Paris metro stations, in 1914. This is the largest synagogue in the Pletzl. Guimard's wife, an American, was Jewish and with the rise of Nazism they left France for the United States. On Yom Kippur 1940 it was dynamited by the Germans, but has since been restored and is now a national monument in addition to playing a key role in the community.

Commissioned and funded by the Agoudas Hakehilos society, which was made up of Orthodox Jews of primarily Russian origin, the building is testament both to their arrival in France at the beginning of the twentieth century and also to their intention to make Paris their permanent home.

It is a modest, tall and thin building. The synagogue is still a very active place of worship, and the centre for all Orthodox Jews in Paris. Entering the interior of the synagogue however brought both visual and cultural surprises.

Station on Paris metro: St Paul