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St Kilda Hebrew Congregation Synagogue

Heritage Listed Location


10 12 Charnwood Grove St Kilda, Port Phillip City, Victoria, Australia

Places Nearby

Windsor, 3181 0.8km St Kilda, 3182 1.2km St Kilda West, 3182 1.5km Balaclava, 3183 1.5km St Kilda East, 3183 1.8km

Details / Significance

What is significant?
The St Kilda Hebrew Congregation was founded in 1871 and its first synagogue built in 1872. By the 1920s the growing congregation required a new synagogue. In 1925 the congregation bought the former 'Charnwood' estate from a syndicate which included the architect Joseph Plottel. Plottel was appointed as architect for the new synagogue and Henry Eilenberg was appointed as contractor. The synagogue was consecrated on 13 March 1927. The bronze doors were installed at the main entrance in 1955 to mark the 50th anniversary of Rabbi Jacob Danglow as the congregation's Chief Minister. The choir gallery and ark were reconstructed in 1956 to a design by architect H. Vivian Taylor. The Ladies' Gallery was extended in 1957-58 to designs by Plottel.

The synagogue was inspired by the Isaiah Hebrew Temple in Chicago. It is in the Byzantine Revival style with an octagonal base and a dome roof clad in Wunderlich tiles. The red brick and render building has arched windows, an entrance with three arched doors each surmounted by a decorated tympanum with coursed masonry above and a second tier of red brick rising up towards the dome behind. Small domes cap flanking towers. Original lamp standards are positioned on either side of the main doors.

How is it significant?
The synagogue has architectural, aesthetic and historical significance to the State of Victoria.

Why is it significant?
The synagogue of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation has architectural and aesthetic significance as a highly distinctive interpretation of Byzantine architecture. The synagogue is significant for the unusual composition and massing of its facade with contrasting use of colour and material, its triple-arched entrance with a half-rounded tympanum over each door and the distinctive, saucer dome and flanking smaller domes. The interior is aesthetically important for its decorative detail. Significant features include finely crafted joinery, decorative mouldings of the cornice and the gallery, the ark in its arched recess flanked by marble pilasters and decorative grille, and the domed ceiling with theMagen David at its apex. The Bimah (central reading desk), its lamp stands and the pulpit are outstanding examples of ornately carved timberwork. Significant fixtures and fittings include the lamp standards outside the entrance, original interior light fittings, the stained glass windows and the timber seats.

The synagogue has historical significance for its associations with Rabbi Jacob Danglow who served at the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation from 1905 to 1957. Danglow was a dominant and commanding force both in the Jewish community and in the wider Victorian community. John S. Levi, in his biography of Danglow, credits him with transforming the St Kilda synagogue into the pre-eminent Jewish pulpit during the first half of the twentieth century. The synagogue also has historical and social significance for its associations with the Jewish community in St Kilda since its inception in 1871. The scale and quality of the building demonstrates the growth and development of that community during the Inter War period.

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H01968 1 stkilda synagogue
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H01968 stkilda synagogue detail bimah
H01968 stkilda synagogue doors
H01968 synagogue plan

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Fleurs 0.4km
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Eden Terrace 0.7km
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Residences 0.8km
Ripplemere 0.8km
Ulimaroa 0.8km
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Linden 1.2km
Tram Shelter 1.2km
Tram Shelter 1.2km
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