India: Mumbai Synagogue Glass to Be Restored
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has officially launched a stained glass conservation project at Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in Mumbai, India. The 19th-century stained glass windows were designed by John Hardman Trading Co., Ltd. and, according to WMF, are among the most beautiful in all of Mumbai. Conservators will address the buildup of particulate matter on the glass panels, cracks, lead fatigue, rust on the saddle bars, and other worn-out materials. New waterproofing and protective methods will also be utilized to ensure longevity of these very significant panels.
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In 2010, WMF funded comprehensive conservation planning for Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue. The conservation plan addresses structural and architectural integrity as well as the restoration of historic finishes and stained glass. Built in 1884 and designed by Bombay architects Gostling and Morris, the synagogue was paid for by the Sassoon family, which contributed to the construction of large synagogues throughout the Asian territories of the British Empire where they were active as bankers and traders. There are other synagogues in Mumbia, but Keneseth Eliyahoo is the oldest Sephardi synagogue in the city.
The Following information comes from WMF:
[The synagogue] was built in the Classical Revival style and originally had Minton tile floors imported from Stoke-on-Trent in England. The synagogue’s decorative interiors featured Victorian stained glass windows and rich Burma Teak wood furnishings and staircase.The synagogue is cared for by the Jewish community, which has diminished in recent years, leaving the synagogue without sufficient funds for conservation. The synagogue is in need of comprehensive treatment as water infiltration has damaged the roof, ceiling, and wall surfaces. The stained glass panels must be cleaned and restored, and the windows, timber balconies, and staircases require careful restoration.The Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue continues to be used as a synagogue and is the center of Jewish cultural and religious life in Mumbai. The building contains unique features that draw on the various cultural forces in Mumbai in the 19th century, combining Jewish traditions with Indian and English colonial influences.
The Mumbai project is not the first time WMF has assisted an Indian synagogue. In the 1990s the preservation organization prepared a preservation plan for the Pardesi Synagogue in Cochin, and assisted in the conservation of that synagogue's famous clock tower.The finely detailed Victorian façade features stone below and brick above and is painted a spectacular sky-blue color, offset with white molding. Inside, the massive prayer room features sky blue walls with white detailing, with a white ceiling boasting sky blue detailing. Arched windows flank the side-walls and the women’s gallery surrounds the sanctuary’s side and back walls, boasting Victorian paneling in sky blue and white, with dark wood hand-railing. The gallery is supported by elegant, spiraled columns with Corinthian capitals reaching from the ceiling to the floor. Intricate and beautifully worked supports and Victorian detailing is evident throughout the sanctuary. The bema is in the center of the prayer room, featuring a wood floor, and is surrounded by a white balustrade with dark wood hand railing. The tivah (reader’s desk) is placed inside and a chandelier drops from the ceiling above the bema. Against the west wall, in a huge arched inset, is the Aron Kodesh flanked by carved marble pillars, up a few steps on a small platform. It is comprised of panels of sky blue and white. Torah scrolls are encased in silver, hidden behind the drawn Torah curtain. Magnificent arched and round stained glass windows rise above the Aron Kodesh, within the arched inset. Above the inset are two tablets, with The Ten Commandments inscribed upon them in Hebrew. Wood pews sit on Victorian tiled flooring.