ou can not understand the Jewish quarter in Venice if you don't begin from the synagogues. The synagogues in the New Ghetto are on the top floor of the pre-existing buildings and recognized with difficulty outside while inside they prove to be little jewels.
The focal points of the synagogues are the ’Aròn ha Qòdesh, the closet the keeps Torah, and the Bimà, the pulpit where the passages of Torah are read; the way the space is ordered is a consequence of the putting of the ’Aròn ha Qòdesh which must be oriented towards Jerusalem.
The Great German Schola
he Great German Schola, of Ashkenazi rite, was born with the pulpit in the middle of the cultural room, then some problems of statics caused the moving of the pulpit opposite the ‘Aròn Ha Qòdesh not to charge too much on the floor. The irregular plant of the Great German Schola is made harmonical by an elliptic women's gallery and by the decorations of the walls covered with "marmorino" and by an inscription, the Ten Commandments, in golden letters with red background running all over the walls of the cultural room.
The Canton Schola
he first Venetian synagogue to be built with the bifocal effect, i.e. with the Bimà opposite the ’Aròn is the Canton Schola, founded in 1531 / 32. In spite of the fact of the date of foundation, the Canton Schola became, thanks to the 18th century interventions, a baroque synagogue with some rococo style. The decoration of the Schola represents an unicum in Europe for the presence of eight wooden panels showing biblical episodes from the book of Exodus as the city of Jericho, the crossing of Red Sea, the altar for the sacrifices, the manna, the Ark on the banks of Jordan river, Qòrach, the gift of Torah and Moses that makes water flow from the rock.
The Italian Schola
he Italian Schola, founded in 1575, is the simplest of the Venetian synagogues; it results, anyway to be the most luminous one, thanks to five wide windows opening on the south side of the square, and the most austere for the lacking of the gleaming tones of the golden leaf decorating the two Ashkenazi synagogues. Even in the Italian Synagogue the two focuses, ’Aròn and Bimà, dominate. The Bimà, in particular, is in a very high position respect to the floor of the cultual room, thus giving to the whole elegant structure, on square plant, an harmonic simplicity.
The Levantine Schola
he Levantine Schola, founded in 1541, was rebuilt in the second half of 17th century. Even if without documents unequivocally proving that, it is thought that the artists who worked for the restoration were Baldassarre Longhena, whose stylistic models are clearly evident on the façade
The Spanish Schola
he Spanish Schola, founded about 1580, but rebuilt on the first half of 17th century. The biggest of the Venetian synagogues is of great scenographic impact. People go upstairs in a wide double staircase that leads to a wide cultual room exalted by a very high elliptic women's gallery.