Spanish & Portuguese
Synagogue - Montreal

Coat of Arms
Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue - Montreal

Canada's oldest Jewish congregation, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, was presented with its own coat of arms from the Chief Herald's office in Ottawa at a ceremony on May 21, 1999.

The coat of arms was designed by the office of Chief Herald R.J. Watt, using symbols that conform to the ancient art of armorial bearings and at the same time are suitable for a modern-day synagogue.

The Spanish and Portuguese's coat of arms features the colors blue, purple, scarlet, gold and silver, inspired by the Lord's biblical injunction to Moses: "The children of Israel shall make an offering of silver and gold, and twine of blue, purple and scarlet, and it shall be for a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." Red and gold are also the colors of the flags of Spain and Portugal, the lands of origin of the synagogue's founders.

On the shield are four silver pillars representing the four buildings in Montreal where the Spanish and Portuguese has been housed over its history. Beneath them is an unfurled sefer Torah, and below that a menorah, which is also inspired by the Exodus story. ("And though shalt make a candlestick of pure beaten gold.")

The sefer Torah is in the middle because, in Sephardi synagogues, the reading table is in the centre of the sanctuary. These three symbols are imposed on a blue strip with undulating edges. This represents the St. Lawrence River, which brought the synagogue's founders to Montreal.

Above the shield, which is trimmed in purple, are the tablets of the Ten Commandments, sitting on a wreath of purple, red and silver. They are flanked by two Lions of Judah and topped by a maple leaf, a tribute to Canada.

On the red and gold ribbon beneath the shield, the Shema is inscribed in Hebrew.

Text and Coat of Arms graphic from:

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