The synagogue of Modena (La Sinagoga di Modena) dates from 1873 and is one of the largest synagogues in all of Italy. It is the centerpiece of the Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, the heart of the city’s ancient Jewish ghetto.
The beautiful interior of the building is bright and ornate. The domed ceiling is painted a vibrant blue with a sprinkling of golden stars throughout, meant to symbolize the Torah’s commandment to go forth and multiply.
While the synagogue was shuttered during the fascist reign of Benito Mussolini, the structure was unharmed, and the synagogue thereby allows a rare window into Jewish life in Europe before the atrocities of World War II. During the Holocaust, more than a dozen Jews from Modena were sent to concentration camps while many others fled or died. After the war, the Jewish community of Modena had shrunk from around 470 to 185 members.
Today, the synagogue in Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini is the largest of three in the city, serving a small but active Jewish community in Modena and the nearby city of Reggio Emilia.
Know Before You Go
The interior of the synagogue can be visited by appointment only. Schedule a tour by contacting the Jewish Community of Modena Synagogue, weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., at firstname.lastname@example.org.