Samuel Halevi Synagogue

Type: Synagogues, Seals
Date: Dedicated in 1357
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Spain
Dimensions: Seal of Todros Halevi, max. 3.5 cm
Description: This synagogue was a private prayer space founded by Samuel Halevi, the chief treasurer and tax collector for King Pedro I (“the Cruel”) of Castile and León (r. 1350–69). Its interior is filled with carved and polychromed stucco decoration that recalls non-Jewish places of worship, including the Alhambra. The building includes both Hebrew and Arabic inscriptions, some painted and some carved in stucco. These offer generic blessings, quote from the Bible, or praise the King Pedro and Samuel himself. Despite Samuel's demonstration of fealty to the king, Pedro charged him with corruption and had him executed in 1360. The family retained its prestige, however, as the seal of Samuel's son, Todros , made ca. 1360–1400, features a castle, the coat of arms of Castile. The fleurs-de-lis, often associated with Christian royalty, were also popular on Jewish seals.

The Samuel Halevi Synagogue is commonly known as "El Tránsito" because it was converted to a church dedicated to the "Transit" or Assumption of the Virgin following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 10
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons; Navid Jamali; British Museum

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Samuel Halevi Synagogue interior, stucco details Samuel Halevi Synagogue interior, stucco details Samuel Halevi Synagogue, plan Seal of Todros Halevi, son of Samuel, 1360–1400 (British Museum  OA.1570)