Lausanne in 1900
The synagogue is located in a residential neighbourhood that began developing in the 1870s with the creation of the new road link between the station and Saint-François. Situated at the busy intersection of five avenues, on the edge of a slope, the synagogue is prominent due to its elevated position, sitting slightly back from the road.
The synagogue was built in 1909-10 by architects Charles Bonjour, Adrien van Dorsser and Oscar Oulevey, based on a simple basilica plan with a nave flanked by two side aisles. Its Roman-Byzantine style – three arches in the façade, small cupolas and the rose window – provide it with the eastern overtones typically present in 19th and early 20th century synagogues.
The Tablets of Law at the top of the large central arch and the Star of David at the centre of the rose window indicate the function of the building. On its south side, plaques commemorate the holocaust as well as the actions of the righteous “in French-speaking Switzerland and beyond”.
The construction of synagogues in European and Swiss cities began in the mid-19th century (Geneva, 1857; Basel, 1867), a sign of the emancipation and increasing integration of Jewish communities at the time. Lausanne’s synagogue was constructed thanks to a bequest by Daniel Iffla (1824-1907), a French banker and patron of several synagogues in his country and abroad. He also presented the city of Lausanne with the Chapel and statue of William Tell in Montbenon, to thank Switzerland for the welcome received by Bourbaki’s Army in 1871.