Kadoorie Synagogue

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Kadoorie Synagogue
Sinagoga Kadoorie.jpg
Synagogue facade
Basic information
Location Guerra Junqueiro street, Porto, Portugal
Geographic coordinates 41°9′21.38″N 8°38′12.9″W / 41.1559389°N 8.636917°W / 41.1559389; -8.636917
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Sephardic
Status Active
Website http://comunidade-israelita-porto.org
Architectural description
Architect(s) Augusto dos Santos Malta, Arthur de Almeida Jr.
Architectural style Modernism
Founder Artur Barros Basto
Groundbreaking 1929
Completed 1938
Capacity 350+

The Kadoorie Synagogue, also known Synagogue Kadoorie - Mekor Haim ("Fountain of Life") is the current synagogue of the Jewish Community of Porto. Its construction started in 1929 and was inaugurated in 1938. It is the largest synagogue in the Iberian Peninsula. The synagogue "Kadoorie - Mekor Haim", is located on Guerra Junqueiro Street, in the city of Porto, Portugal.


The synagogue and the Jewish Community of Porto[edit]

The history of Kadoorie synagogue is inextricably linked to the history of its founder, Captain Artur Barros Basto, a Portuguese army officer converted to Judaism.

In the early twenties of the last century there were at least twenty Ashkenazim Jews in the city; since they did not have a synagogue they had to go to Lisbon, for all religious matters.

After realizing the need for a synagogue, Barros Basto started to plan on building a synagogue but first, on his own initiative, officially registers in the Civil Government the local Jewish community in 1923 and named it Comunidade Israelita do Porto (Israelite Community of Porto).

The present synagogue would only begin to be built years later but the community was organized and rented a house on the Elias Garcia street that started to function as a synagogue.

In 1929, Barros Basto raised funds that enabled him to buy the plot of land for the future synagogue, in Guerra Junqueiro Street.

In November 13, 1929 an application for obtaining the necessary licensing to begin work was delivered at Câmara Municipal do Porto (Municipal chamber) and a few weeks later the first stone was laid and the construction began. The work progressed slowly until 1933, due to the high costs and the limited funds of its founder and the community, despite all the support that was provided by the Committee for the Spanish-Portuguese Jews of London.

In that year, Laura Kadoorie, the wife of a Jewish philanthropist of Iraqi origin, Sir Elly Kadoorie died, and her children saw in this unfortunate event the necessity to honor their mother, a descendant of Portuguese Jews who fled the country from the Inquisition. This tribute was reflected in the monetary support of the Kadoorie family to the construction of large parts of the Synagogue of Porto, which was renamed "Synagogue Kadoorie - Mekor Haim."

"Kadoorie" in honor of the family that was so important to its conclusion and "Mekor Haim" the name that its founder had given to it.


Kadoorie Synagogue

The building reveals a sturdy façade and a modern architecture visible through its simple and discreet volumetry, which reveals much about the architects who projected it.

The building's interior is beautifully decorated with passages of Torah in Hebrew letters, complemented by Moroccan-Sephardic decorations.

According to documents filed in the Town Hall, when the application for the building permit was submitted, it was given to Lieutenant Augusto dos Santos Malta, an architect trained in the School of Fine Arts of Porto. It is also known that some of these documents were signed by the architect Arthur de Almeida Jr. suggesting that both may have been co-authors of the project.

The Master Rogério de Azevedo, may also have had direct involvement in the work but either only at (its) the end of the construction or even during the finishes since some parts of the building, including the library woodwork, are very similar to other significant works of Rogério de Azevedo.[1]

Kadoorie Synagogue interior

Present Day[edit]

Currently, the community is guided by the philosophy of Chabad Lubavitch and counts among its members, with Jews of various origins such as Poland, Egypt, the United States, India, Russia, Israel, Spain, Portugal and England.

In the present day, rabbi Daniel Litvak guides the community, he's a native of Argentina. The current vice president of the Jewish Community of Porto is the granddaughter of Captain Barros Basto, Isabel Ferreira Lopes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mea, Elvira de Azevedo e Steinhardt, Inácio - Ben-Rosh. Biografia do Capitão Barros Basto, Lisboa: Afrontamento, 1997, pag.222

External links[edit]