The Ramchal Synagogue

At the center of the narrow and arch decorated building, comprising only three rows of prayers, there is a large hole. According to tradition, Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzatto, the Ramchal, used to go down into the hole instead of up onto the pulpit when he read from the Torah, inspired by the verse “Out of the depths have I called Thee, O Lord”. The synagogue does not contain a women’s gallery: women stood by a designated window on the street level, and listen.

  • The Ramchal Synagogue 1

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The structure of the synagogue was designed by the Ramchal (author of ‘Mesilat Yesharim’ [Path of the Just] – a fundamental book in Jewish moral literature) according to what he knew from Padova, his birth town. Upon his arrival in Acre in the mid18th century, the Jewish community had another – more luxurious – synagogue. This building was confiscated by the Governor of the Galilee, Dahar el-Omar, who gave the community the current building in its stead.
The Ramchal and his family and several of his disciples arrived in the city of Acre, a city that even intellectual-giants such as the Rambam and the Ramban found appropriate to stay in, after he was accused of False Prophecy and dealing with the Kabballah before he was forty. In Acre, like in many other places, he was already a revered figure.
The ink used by Ramchal to write a Torah scroll on deerskin, was produced by the locals from the peels of pomegranates. The scroll, whose letters have faded over the years, is exhibited in the place.
A few years after he arrived in Acre, when he was about 40 years old, the Ramchal and his family died of the plague.
There are a few versions regarding his burial place. One says that he is buried at the foot of the Acre Mound. Anther claims that he is buried in Tiberias, near Rabbi Akiva’s grave. According to the third and most likely version, he is buried at Kafr Yasif, where many of the town’s residents were buried in those days – as according to the Halacha (Jewish law) Acre is not considered part of the land of Israel.
According to Ramchal synagogue goers, the Gaon of Vilna once said that had he lived during Ramchal’s period, he would have come from Vilna to Acre on his knees in order to be his disciple. Would you?