Singers Hill Synagogue in central Birmingham is the city’s oldest centre for Jewish worship.
Opened in 1856 it is not in fact the city’s oldest Jewish place of worship. The current building replaced an older synagogue, built in the the Greek revival style, that was constructed in 1813.
The ornateness of today’s building reflects the wealth and standing of Birmingham’s mid-19th Century Jewish community. Its exterior is relatively unobtrusive, although features like the arched entrance do hark back to an idealised conception of religious buildings in the middle east and Levant.
Inside the synagogue the interior decoration, whilst lush, is incredibly similar to that of many other Victorian civic buildings, for instance Birmingham Town Hall. In this regard the main worship hall whilst taking its stylistic cues first and foremost from the architecture of the ancient rather than the medieval world, is in fact rather reminiscent of the interiors of 19th Century “gothic” Anglican churches.
Today the synagogue works to be open to the community. It has participated in the Birmingham Post’s Hidden Spaces scheme, which works to open up some of the city’s most interesting buildings to the public.
A Glimpse Inside Birmingham’s Oldest Synagogue
External picture showing the entrance to the Singers Hill synagogue in central Birmingham.
Richly embroidered lectern cloth-bearing the ten commandments in Hebrew-standing in the sanctuary of the Singers Hill synagogue Birmingham.
A close angled shot showing the scale and the intricacy of the decoration in Singers Hill synagogue.
Ornate light fitting, modernised with gas lamps replaced by electric, in Singers Hill synagogue Birmingham.
The Council Chamber in Singer Hill Synagogue, central Birmingham. It is here that community elders makes decisions about how the synagogue is run. In doing so they are watched over by portraits of their forbears.
Intricate mid-Victorian ironwork and stained glass at the back of the Singers Hill synagogue in central Birmingham.
The entrance hall to Singers Hill synagogue in central Birmingham. Note the war memorial to those from the community who died in World War I alongside traditional Jewish religious artifacts like the Menorah.
Seats at the back of the Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham.
Stained glass windows above the sanctuary in the Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham. The central window illustrates the 10 Commandments.
Decorative rose shaped stained glass window in the Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham.
Looking down from the upstairs (women’s) seating in the Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham.
View back towards the congregation from the lectern in the Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham.
View towards the sanctuary in the Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham. Note the dedication on the cloth.
View towards the sanctuary in the Singers Hill Synagogue, Birmingham.