Scola Norsa - The Norsa Synagogue

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This synagogue takes its name from one of the most ancient Jewish families of Mantua: the Norsa. In 1489 Judah ben Menahem Norsa obtains permission to have an area in his home to use as a private synagogue.
In 1630 all the synagogues of Mantua were plundered and destroyed by the army of the Habsburg Emperor, and many Jews left the city. Between 1633 and 1635 they returned and rebuilt the synagogues; among them the Italian rite synagogue, called “Norsa-Torrazzo” due to its vicinity to a medieval tower (torre). In 1751 the “Norsa-Torrazzo” synagogue was refurbished in late baroque/rococo style. In 1899, when the Municipality decided on its demolition, the synagogue was rebuilt in a neighboring area (via Govi, 13) that was an exact reconstruction of the previous one, with its original Baroque/Rococo style wooden furniture. Accurate copies of the stucco decorations were created in the new building, among them a medallion with an inscription with the original date: 1751.
In the middle of the oblong synagogue hall, two luminous niches are placed: the eastern one housing the Torah Ark (Aron HaKodesh) and the western one hosting the Tevah. The building is paved in checkered rose and white marble. The elegant elevated women’s gallery, with arched openings which can be closed with wooden lattice frames, included a space for the choir.
The synagogue, the only one still in use in Mantua, is annexed to a modern building that houses the offices and meeting rooms of the Jewish Community of Mantua.