The second part of the PMB ‘A Walk of Faith’ walking tour was conducted at Chesed-El Synagogue at Oxley Rise. The name ‘Chesed-El’ means ‘bountiful mercy and goodness of God’. The synagogue was built in 1905 by Sir Manasseh Meyer, a Jewish businessman and philanthropist. The Synagogue is open every Monday for the morning service as well as on major holidays and is run by trustees of the Chesed El Synagogue Settlement Trust.
In the centre of the synagogue is the bimah, a raised pulpit from which the Torah is read. The original bimah was made of marble but was damaged during World War II and replaced with a wooden structure.
The holiest place in the synagogue is the ark where the Torah scrolls are stored. The ark is on a raised platform opposite the entrance and faces westward towards Jerusalem. The Hebrew inscription above the ark says: “Lo, in Thine abundant love I enter Thy house; in reverence to Thee I bow towards Thy holy temple”.
The ark has three entrances and each one is covered by a curtain, known as the parochet. The floor of the platform has retained its original mosaic tiles. The eternal lamp hangs in front of the ark and is continually lit as a reminder of the perpetual lamp that existed in the former Temple of Jerusalem.
It was my first time in a synagogue and it was such a privilege to be able to enter this religious building and to learn more about the Jewish community in Singapore. I was awed by the beauty of the place and grateful for the introduction to another facet of Singapore that I know very little about.