Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue is the second oldest Sephardic synagogue in Mumbai. Constructed in 1884, the synagogue was designed by Bombay architects Gostling and Morris and was paid for by the Sassoon family, who were prominent philanthropists in Bombay in the nineteenth century. It was built in the classical revival style and originally had Minton tile floors imported from Stoke-on-Trent in England. The synagogue’s decorative interiors featured Victorian stained glass windows and rich Burmese teakwood furnishings and staircase.
The Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue continues to be used as a synagogue and is the center of Jewish cultural and religious life in Mumbai. The building contains unique features that draw on the various cultural forces in Mumbai in the nineteenth century, combining Jewish traditions with Indian and English Victorian influences.
The Recovery of Treasured Heritage for Mumbai's Jewish Community
The synagogue is cared for by the Jewish community, which has diminished in recent years, leaving the synagogue without sufficient funds for conservation. The synagogue is in need of comprehensive treatment as water infiltration has damaged the roof, ceiling, and wall surfaces. The stained glass panels must be cleaned and restored, and the windows, timber balconies, and staircases require careful restoration.
In 2010, WMF funded the creation of a comprehensive conservation plan for Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue. This plan addresses structural and architectural integrity as well as the restoration of historic finishes and stained glass.
Beginning in 2017, a new phase of work included structural and roof repairs, recovery of decorative finishes, as well as the restoration of the synagogue’s stunning nineteenth-century stained glass windows. Work was completed in January 2019.
In October 2019, the project was recognized with an Award of Merit at the 2019 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.