Welcome to the synagogue of Ostend
The Synagogue follows a simple typological model adapted to the limits of the available surface and the irregular measurements of the terrain.
The surface of 350 m² is fully used. The plan includes a porch with inside a semicircular niche, with a circular basin with left and right separate entrances for men and women respectively and the corresponding changing rooms; on the right a staircase leads to the ladies gallery above the porch.
L. G. connects by a bend to the elongated prayer room, in one piece, ending on an apse with a semicircular niche; the remaining space on the right is occupied by a modest “MIKVA” – a space dedicated to the ritual bath – a small meeting room and sanitary facilities.
The porch and the prayer hall are covered with a gable roof; the small, low, lateral spaces are covered with a flat roof; the meeting room has a skylight that is opened during the feast of tabernacles.
The neo-Romanesque style of design is inspired by the architecture of the synagogues at the time of its construction: the facade is an exact replica in reduced form of the middle part of the façade of the Orthodox Synagogue in Frankfurt. The points of comparison are: the porch that overlooks the entrance, the blind part of the gable with vaulted niches leading to bull’s eyes surrounding a rayed window and the round basin in the hall, which is conceived/used for the first time in a synagogue in Belgium.
A cemented gable with false joints, slightly set back from the line of the facades, adorned with formal beauty accents and graphic lines. The ornamentation is limited: carved friezes barely protruding from the wall, capitals and casements with stylized vine leafs according to the Byzantine model characteristic of the early neo-Romanesque style.
The entrance porch has two semicircular arches, two arched doors and a central bull’s eye with the star of David, is supported by ten columns, grouped two by two (= ten pillars that symbolize the ten commandments). A continuous iron fence marks the alignment of the street. In an earlier front design, architect J. De Langhe foresaw two covered neo-Romanesque side turrets and a dwarf gallery above the central entrance. This two-tower facade, a reference to “YAKHIN” and “BOAZ”, the two columns in front of the entrance to the Temple of Jerusalem, was an essential feature of the typology of synagogues in the nineteenth century.
Plastered and recently painted white-beige, has an ornamentation that – unlike the first design – is limited to elements that emphasize the main lines of architecture.
The front porch
Mosaic floor bordered by an undulating pattern, marble baseboards, the basin already mentioned and a stone commemorating the inauguration with the following inscription in French:
“INAUGURATION OF THE SYNAGOGUE 5 ELOUL 5671 – 29 AUGUST 1911. FOUNDING DIRECTORS E. FRIDLENDER, OFFICIAL MINISTER, M. BLOCH, PRESIDENT R. NATAN, TREASURER, C. CERF, SECRETARY, B. FELDBERG”.
The MIKVA is in white tiles
A prayer hall lighted from the zenith under a barrel vault resting on surrounding arches resting in turn on consoles; further an upper register of completely smooth side walls. The arched muzzled vaults and the acanthus frieze give relief to the lower register. Columns with acanthus capital support the gallery of the ladies and the arch of the apse. The mosaic floor is lined with a pattern of circles.
As a stone portico, the aron, is an integral part of this architectural rather spared framework.
The simple wooden bima (lectern for reading) with the corner candelabra was originally intended to be placed in the apse, but later received a more central place in the prayer room, in the middle of the rows of wooden benches. It is the same for the stool for the rabbi.
It is exceptional that the liturgical bath has been preserved.
The stained glass windows were without a doubt the most striking. They were soberly worked in the dormer windows of the vault and in the rosette of the front. This one for example represented the seal of Solomon. They were lost during the Second World War. The Star of David now appears in the rosette.
The chandeliers and other lighting probably date from after the Second World War.
Any questions or wish to visit our synagogue?
Present State of the Construction
Currently, major restoration work is underway at the Synagogue. After the first phase of the restoration, the second phase of the restoration will start in 2018. If the administrative part is not delaying this.
The general condition of the electrical equipment, the heating and the sanitary facilities was no longer up to standard and required a complete renovation.
The accessibility must also be improved.
The Synagogue is a public building to which the regional accessibility regulations apply. This must be seen with the Real Estate Heritage Agency and this work is planned in phase 2 of the renovation works.
The following works were carried out in the first phase:
– Lot 1: shell and finish
– Lot 2: sanitary renovation and technical heating works
– Lot 3: electrical works
Due to the bankruptcy of the prime contractor, some works of the first lot have been delayed. An important element of the ritual bath (Mikwa) has yet to be completed. The intention is to finish all this soonest.
Lots 2 and 3 are completed and will be finally delivered in a few weeks. After the meeting of all parties involved in Phase 1, a final report will be prepared and at this point in time the second phase of restoration can begin.
The second phase includes the restoration of:
– the facade (including wrought iron balustrades)
– the roof and repair (and replacement) of the carpentry
– glazing (including stained glass and roof window) must be repaired
– Painting work inside the Synagogue. The intention is to return to the original colors of the year 1911. With this objective, a study has already been made concerning the walls and the report on this subject is in our possession.
– We are waiting for the report from Monumentenwacht to have a definitive overview of the situation.
– All regional regulations must also be respected.
Before the start of the second phase of the restoration work, careful inspection of the roof, trusses, gutters, etc. was carried out in order to have a correct inventory of the work to be done. The completion of this second phase is scheduled for 2019.
Following the retirement of the architect who oversaw the first phase of the restoration, we had to approach a new architectural firm to help us to complete the first phase properly.
Because we have requested that an intervention of the heritage premium be increased to 80% for the second phase of the restoration, a management plan must be drafted.
This also implies that for phase 2, all the parameters of the public tender procedure must be respected.
Via the links below you can find the regulations regarding the appointment of a designer in the case of public contracts.
Better still you find all the model documents via the second website.