The Sassoon Synagogues in Mumbai and Pune were built by the Sassoons, whose dynasty left a permanent imprint in India.
David Sassoon (1792-1864), the founder of the Sassoon dynasty in
India, escaped from the persecution of the Pashas and fled to India in
1828 through Bushire in Iran, along with his father, who died there.
David Sassoon and his large family of eight children established an
international empire of trade and commerce. The establishment of many
educational, religious and charitable institutions by David Sasoon and
his sons benefited the city of Mumbai and the Pune Jewish community.
In 1861, Sassoon built in Byculla, Mumbai, the Magen David Synagogue
and some of the most important cultural and civic institutions,
including Hospital, Orphanages, Libraries, Museums, Docks, Schools and
charitable organizations. David Sassoon supported scholars and scholarly
publications in Pune he built the David Sassoon Hospital, an infirmary
and leper asylum, and the Ohel David Synagogue, whose 90 feet spire is a
Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, Mumbai, India
55, Dr. V.B. Gandhi Marg, Fort Mumbai – 400 023. (Ph.91-22-22831502 22839617)
Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue was built in 1884 by Jacob Elias Sassoon
in memory of his father Eliyahoo Sassoon. It is situated in Colaba, the
absolute centre of the Town close to the well known hotels of the Taj
Mahal and Oberoi Sheraton now Hilton Towers and many other hotels which
are situated nearby.
In the earlier years there was a huge Bagdadi Jewish Community living
in the area. Most of the affluent Community members lived in the areas
close to the Synagogue. The Jewish Club and the David Sassoon Library
were close to the Synagogue and in the High Holidays especially “Rosh
Hashanah” and “Yom Kippur” the entire Synagogue was full up, with extra
chairs being placed between benches all around the Synagogue in the
The ladies, of course were seated on the upper floor which was also
completely packed. Now this Synagogue caters to the local Jewish
Community and especially to the foreigners who come from all parts of
the world. There is regular “Minyan” on ‘Erev Shabbath’ and Shabbath.
After the morning service ‘Kiddush’ with a “Shulhan” (Seudah) is served
to all members attending the services.
For over a hundred years people from Asia would come and make use of the ‘Mikvah’ of the Keneseth Eliyahu Synagogue.
Magen David Synagogue
The Magen David Synagogue at Byculla Synagogue was built in 1864 by
the late David Sassoon who was the founder of the Sassoon empire in
India. Daily morning services and “Ereb” Sabbath and also Sabbath
Mornings prayers are conducted. After which, a “Shulhan” breakfast is
served to one and all.
This is the largest Synagogue of the “Bagdadi” Jewish Community of
India which is open to one and all irrespective of the fact whether the
members of the Community are Bene-Israel, Cochini’s or Bagdadi Jews and
In the compound of the Synagogue there are two Jewish Schools which
are run by the Sir Jacob Sassoon High School Trust and the E.E.E.
Sassoon High School Trust, in which Jewish children were educated. With
the paucity of Jewish students the Schools are open to all Communities,
and at the moment, since the population around the vicinity are Muslims,
almost 98% of the students are Muslims.
In the compound we also have the Lady Rachel Free Dispensary which is
run by the Trust, a doctor is employed to look after the poor and needy
Jews who require medical aid. The dispensary is open twice a week and
for the remaining part of the days since the doctor has his own
dispensary in the vicinity, the Jews are free to visit him at anytime.
There was also a “Mikvah” in the compound but as the needs of the community decreased it is currently not in operation.340, Sir J. J. Road Byculla, Mumbai – 400 008. Ph. 91-22-23006675
Ohel David Synagogue, Pune, India
The Ohel David Synagogue in Pune was built in 1863 – 67 by the Late
David Sassoon who was also responsible to build the Sassoon Hospital in
Pune and many other such philanthropic works. This Synagogue is declared
as the Monument of Pune which is also better known as the ‘Lal Davel’
(Red Synagogue), as it is built in red bricks.
This Synagogue caters to the Jewish Community of Pune and during the
summer months and rainy season in Bombay, it used to have large number
of Jews coming from Bombay during the season and living in Pune who
spent most of their summer months in Pune because of better climatic
conditions prevailing in the city of Pune compare to Bombay now called
Mumbai. The Mausoleum of the Late David Sassoon is housed in the
precincts of the Synagogue were the Late David Sassoon Lived. There is a
“Mikvah” in the Synagogue compound which is not in operation at the
Prayers are conducted on Saturdays and a “Hazzan” from Bombay goes to conduct services for Shabbath prayers.
There is a Jewish Cemetery in Pune which is maintained by us along with the Jewish cemetery in Mumbai.9, Dr. Ambedkar Road, Pune – 411 001. Ph. 91-20-26132048