"Il Kal Grandi" - Sarajevo’s great Sephardic temple: at the crossroads between Orient and modernity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The article’s aim is to revisit Sarajevo’s Great Sephardic Temple (Il Kal Grandi), a little known, short-lived twentieth century synagogue. Built between 1926 and 1930 in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, it was the last such project before the outbreak of World War II in the region. The article explores this synagogue’s oriental and specifically Sephardic identity as well as the politics surrounding the decision to build it. Although built by Sarajevo’s Sephardic community, a number of Il Kal Grandi’s sociological, architectural and aesthetic choices, as the article argues, originate in the Ashkenazic, German-speaking cultural sphere. German architects in the first half of the nineteenth century were the first to use an oriental style based upon the style of the Alhambra palace in order to stress Jewish oriental, non-European identity. The use of the very same style, along with modern innovations, enabled the Sephardic community in Sarajevo to be part of the united (Ashkenazic and Sephardic), predominantly Zionist Yugoslav Jewry while preserving its specifically Sephardic distinctiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJewish Literatures and Cultures in Southeastern Europe
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2021

RAMBI Publications

  • RAMBI Publications
  • Synagogues -- Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Sarajevo
  • Synagogue architecture -- History -- 20th century
  • Architecture -- Oriental influences
  • Sephardim -- Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Sarajevo
  • Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)


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