FOR THE DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT OF AKHALTSIKHE SYNAGOGUE
The article focuses on the so-called synagogues in the “Jewish Quarter” in Akhaltsikhe, especially the history of old synagogue, which, according to various sources, narratives and information preserved in the memory of the Jewish community, must be about 160 years old. In addition, there is another version about the much older date of construction of the synagogue and its subsequent history. Which date is more credible of these two? The article attempts of the solution of this issue.
The main part of the Jewish quarter in Akhaltsikhe was located close to the shrines, as the chapel was primarily a center of their religious-cultural and public life. There are currently two shrines in the middle of the Jewish quarter of Akhaltsikhe: one in operation, the other - abolished. Surviving inscription on the above part of the front door of one of the well-preserved old shrine informs us, that the shrine was built in 1862-63, the date is officially considered the date of construction of the synagogue by the Jewish community to this day, as only this variant of the synagogue date remains in their memory. In parallel, there is another, quite important version, which names a much earlier period of the construction of the shrine.
One of the most significant and reliable documents we have found are the materials described in the work of the famous European traveler and scientist Yehuda Halev Chorn about the history of the synagogue in Akhaltsikhe. Considering that the history of the Jewish settlement in Akhaltsikhe dates back to a much earlier period is logical and the discussion on the second version would not be groundless.
As mentioned above, the well-known version for today of the construction of the shrine in the Jewish community of Akhaltsikhe is based on the inscription on the wall of the shrine only and does not give us a different version. Quite significant information from the European traveler gives us a more and more detailed interpretation of the founding of the synagogue and even about its first religious servants. On the one hand, a more common version of the establishment and construction of the synagogue with the existing inscriptions and legends of the local population, and on the other hand, reconciling the records provided by a famous traveler and scholar allows us to take the history of Akhaltsikhe synagogue back one century. In turn, this means that the Akhaltsikhe Synagogue deserves the status of one of the oldest Jewish shrines in Europe.
Keywords: Akhaltsikhe; Jewish Quarter; Synagogue; Traveler; tombstones; status.