The beautiful synagogue of Lausanne is located at the top of the Avenue de la Gare, at the corner of Avenue Juste-Olivier and Florimont. It can be visited by groups taking prior appointment with the rabbi of the CILV +41 21 341 72 43.
The Great Synagogue is open for all services on Shabbat and major holidays. The daily morning and evening services take place in the “small synagogue” on the lower level of the building, entrance from the avenue Florimont (view weekday sevices or shabbat services).
On Tuesday, October 9, 1909, the first stone of the synagogue in Lausanne was laid. Its inauguration would take place on November 7, 1910. At the genesis of the project is a wealthy Jewish patron from Bordeaux, France, Daniel Iffla-Osiris, who, as a token of gratitude to the Swiss for the hospitality they had extended to the Bourbaki army in 1870, left some money to the city of Lausanne in his will. In his legacy, a sum of 50,000 Swiss francs was given to the Jewish Community of Lausanne (CIL) in order to build a synagogue. The will specified that the synagogue should by built in the same style as the Buffault synagogue in Paris, which he had gifted to the Parisian Jews in 1877.
With this strong financial capital to which a bank loan was added, and with the endorsement of the general assembly, the Committee of the CIL still had one problem to solve before launching the construction of the new temple. It needed to obtain from the will’s executioner (who, for the record, was none other than former President of the Republic Emile Loubet), an exemption from the provisions of the testator, to build a smaller building that could better suit the needs of the community.
The agreement was obtained but to respect the spirit of the donor, two plaques, still visible today, were set at the foot of the altar which give tribute to the great figures of Judaism and to those French non-Jews who worked to defend the rights of Jews. It was on land surrounded by vineyards, a far cry from the the bustling city center (was that intended?) at a place called Bellefontaine, that the hurried construction began.
Beneath the first stone is capsule that contains essential information on the CIL and the names of the members of the committee of that time, chaired by Louis Lob, MM. Isidore Dreyfuss, Lazarus Rhein, Michel Lazare, and Albert Katz.
The official inauguration took place over two days during which the entire Lausanne population was invited to visit the building. It was an occasion for much festivity and celebration with an audience well represented by municipal, cantonal, judicial, religious, and academic authorities. The Chief Rabbi of Geneva dedicated the building.
Today, the synagogue of Lausanne has not changed, yet it’s environment has changed drastically. It is now in the heart of the city making it a part of the city life, visible from afar, and accessible to everyone.