A Syngagogue for the City

It is easy to miss this quiet side street adjacent to the bustling retail precinct of Rundle Street. However, its name hints at its once important place within South Australia’s Jewish community.

Just over a decade after South Australia was founded, the colony’s small Jewish community had enough members to form a congregation. On 10 September 1848, plans for building a permanent place of worship began. The new synagogue was consecrated in August 1850.

The number of Jewish settlers had increased by the 1860s, and a new synagogue building was erected between 1869 and 1871. Today you can still find elements of this building inside the retail shops on Rundle Street.


By 1891 the city's Jewish population had reached 1840. It was suggested that the synagogue be redeveloped, this time to also provide income for the community.

Architect Edward Davies prepared plans for five shops. These would yield a profit of £375 per year. The plans were approved in 1896 and the complex was built. The synagogue's entrance was moved to the side street so the shops could face the higher-traffic area on Rundle Street. 



Architect Chris A. Smith refaced the buildings in the Art Deco style in 1938. The new façade of the synagogue was described as similar to those of picture theatres of the time. Smith had designed several picture theatres in South Australia, including the Chelsea Theatre in Kensington.

The exterior of the synagogue and shops has remained relatively unchanged since that time.

Images

The former Synagogue in Synagogue Place

The former Synagogue in Synagogue Place

Rather than being rebuilt, the synagogue, like many buildings at the time, was refaced in the Art Deco style. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

The former Synagogue in Synagogue Place:

The former Synagogue in Synagogue Place:

Although no longer a synagogue, the building architecture still hints at its former purpose. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

The Synagogue on Rundle Street, 1870

The Synagogue on Rundle Street, 1870

Source: National Trust of South Australia Joyce Photographic Collection ID: 39 View File Details Page

Synagogue Shops, Rundle Street

Synagogue Shops, Rundle Street

Source: Image courtesy the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources View File Details Page

Synagogue, Synagogue Place

Synagogue, Synagogue Place

In 1896, the synagogue's entrance was shifted from facing North Terrace to what is now known as Synagogue Place. | Source: Image courtesy of Michael Burden. National Trust of South Australia Image ID: 2014.DIG.00323 View File Details Page

Synagogue Shops on Rundle Street

Synagogue Shops on Rundle Street

The shops added to the Synagogue site are still evident on Rundle Street today. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

Synagogue Shops on Rundle Street

Synagogue Shops on Rundle Street

Along with the Synagogue, the Rundle Street shopfronts were also given a 'modernised' update in 1938. | Creator: Photograph by Jessica Cronin View File Details Page

Street Address:

5-9 Synagogue Place, Adelaide [map]

Cite this Page:

Adelaide City Explorer Team & East End Coordination Group, “A Syngagogue for the City,” Adelaide City Explorer, accessed June 26, 2017, http://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/42.
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