France > Paris: Inauguration tallion of the Sephardic "Rite Portugais" Synagogue on Rue Buffault, 1877; struck in bronze; not maker-marked; size (tallion only): 27.5mm x 32mm; weight: 9.15g.
Obverse depicts device of the Ten Commandments tablet with transliterated Hebrew date of the inauguration, "25 [month of] Eloul 5637", and legend around edge, "Temple Israelite Rite Portugaise".
On reverse, legend in French around edge, "Inauguration 3 Septembre 1877" - the inauguration took place 4 days before the Rosh HaShana holiday on 7 September.
The unusual simplicity - lack of ornament - of the medal may symbolize the turbulent circumstances of this Synagogue's establishment: when the Grand Synagogue of Paris (on Rue de la Victoire) was opened in 1875, it was supposed to have served both the Ashkenazi ("German Jewish rite") and the Sephardic ("Spanish-Portuguese rite") Jewish communities of the city as a unified "Tsarfati" (French) rite, but a dispute between the leaders of the two ethnic communities lead the Sephardic community to split from the new Synagogue - specifically since this new Synagogue's ark did not face west, to Jerusalem, as it should.
With funding mostly by Daniel Iffla (known also as "Osiris"), a wealthy Jew of Morroccan origin, the "Portuguese rite" of Jews purchased land on Buffault Street in 1876 and hired the architect Stanislas Ferrand to design the new Synagogue exterior and Albert Philippe Le Roy Bonneville to design the interior, which could seat 900. The stated aim of the Synagogue's board of directors was to "only follow the Sephardic rite... as is currently practiced in Paris... Bordeaux, Bayonne, Amsterdam..."
Upon the completion of the Buffault Synagogue another dispute erupted when Osiris wanted to place a dedication plaque highlighting his controbutions but ignoring the donations of others, and giving tribute to many famous Sephardic Jews - but many whose religious stances differed from those of the city's Rabbinate.
This Synagogue exists to this day, and Osiris is credited with funding the establishment of other Synagogues in Arcachon (also in 1877, and also designed by Ferrand), Tours, Paris (the Vincennes Synagogue) as well as in Tunis and Lausanne.
מילות מפתח: מדליה מדליות בתי כנסת כנסיות יהודיות יודאיקה יודאיכה צרפת