The Synagogue

The inscriptions
The four walls of the synagogue are covered with inscriptions in Hebrew framed with golden ornaments, arranged in three rows. They constitute a precious decorative elements, as do the grates in chiseled wood hiding the two women galleries.
Epitaphs on stone of white marble of Carrara, with registrations always in Hebrew characters can also be found .

The writings can be divided between those quoting Psalms, chosen from Giuseppe Levi, in the bottom and the top row and those remembering historical events, the construction and the embellishment of the synagogue, close the middle row.

All the quotations are in Hebrew: this is not surprising. Hebrew in fact was a language that all the Jews knew and used for their prayers (as the Christians used Latin in the churches). Neither the large range of Psalms must astonish: they in fact represent a form of devotional religiousness, very accessible also to the not Jews. In these inscriptions the Judaism appears in an aspect of Universalism and Spiritualism, typical of the 1700′s and the 1800′s, when it was diffused a new way of seeing Judaism, only as religion.

On the walls other inscriptions can be found, concerning the construction and the embellishment of the synagogue.
Reading these epitaphs is like turning over the pages of a history book, in which are told joyful or sad moments of the community’s life and of its characters.
A first one remembers the construction of synagogue “This stone remembers that in year 5355-1595 this oratory was built up to honor of the G-d of Israel”. A second one is dedicated to Giuseppe Vitta Clava’s generosity, that allowed the creation of the first women gallery: “In memory of Giuseppe Vitta Clava’s generosity who wanted to adorn a new women gallery 5480-1720″. An other epitaph remembers the restoration and the enrichment of the Torah Ark “This stone attests that the Saint Arch splendidly adorned of precious wood and capitals of the purest gold, was built in the year 5547-1787″.

Two other stones are dedicated to the restoration of the floor, thanks to a donation, “To perennial memory that the marble floor was placed in the synagogue and in the arcade for the liberality of the baron Giuseppe Raffael Vitta in the year 5583-1823″ and the widening of the synagogue “By decision of the community’s president, by will of the assembly, by people’s generosity this synagogue was recalled to new youth and was increased in length in front of the Saint Arch. With exultation and rejoicing it was renewed in year 5626-1866″.

On the walls some historical events are remembered: the Spanish troops’ besiege “Day of light and of joy that remembers the liberation and our salvation granted from G-d in the besiege of the Spanish troops – 10 Adar 5389-1629 and Tishri the 5391-1631″ and the escaped danger, when some bombs fell on the crowded synagogue without causing casualties “Day of song and rejoicing because G-d protected us and saved us from the bombs of the tempters that opposed to the city. 7 Iyar 5416-1656″. Two miraculous events are thus celebrated by the people of Casale during Purim, together with the events traditionally remembered on this festival: the Spanish invasion of Adar 5389-1629 and the Bomb of the 7 Iyar 5416-1656, in gratitude towards the divine protection in that moment of danger..

On the walls of the synagogue a commemorative plaque of great historical interest can also be found, concerning the Emancipation: “March 29th, 1848 – King Carlo Alberto and the national Parliament have decreed – the civil and political rights of subalpine Jews – in order that, with past interdictions forgotten, they flourish in equality and love of country as free citizens – in eternal memory, the Israelites of Casale.”.
This is the only commemorative plaque in Hebrew and Italian. It is a very important datum, because from that moment, they felt gratitude towards the Savoy’s monarch that had given them civil rights. Therefore, when Carlo Alberto died in 1852, the Jews mourned for him at the synagogue, striping the walls with black bands under the grates of the women gallery. They weren’t the only Jews to cry the death of this Savoy’s monarch. Those of Turin, for example, expressed their pain by browning the synagogue’s ark, which has maintained until now the color of the mourning.

The Torah Ark and the Bimah
The Torah Ark, the closet in which the sacred scrolls are kept, is dated 1765 and preludes with its ensemble the neoclassical elegance; the tympanum is sustained by four monumental wooden columns, the Corinthian capitals and the flowery decorated oak motifs are gilded, the columns are painted brown to look like marble against a green backgound.

The inside of the Ark is lined with red damask and has decorations in gilded wood. The inside of the doors is cobalt blue with the Ten Commandments, Shofar, Menorah, Sefer Torah, carved in bas relief and gilded.

The Bimah is delimited by a precious wrough-tiron motif and the table where the Torah is placed at reading time stands on a beutifully decorated wrought-iron base.
The Ark and the Bimah are placed at a higher level than the benches.

Two bas-reliefs

On the two sides of the Bimah, two bronze-like plaster of Paris bas-reliefs can be forun on the walls.
The one on the right of the Ark represents Jerusalem and King Solomon’s Temple; the one on the left the city of Hebron and the Tombs of the Patriarchs. They are dated at the end of the 16th century.

The ceiling

Particular attention must be paid to the beautiful ceiling, preciously painted and stucco decorated, where one reads “This is the gate of Heaven”.

The windowse

The windows of the women gallery are decorated with gilded carved wood grating; through them and through the other windows of the synagogue the light filters, giving an impressive view of the golden stuccos and the pastel colors.