The walls had been bought by the Jews of the Teleky Market at the beginning of the century for the greater glory of God and so that they wouldn’t have to cross the boulevard to get to the nearest temple. The walls had previously housed an emporium, and so appropriate works of transformation and consecration had to be carried out before the ground floor became the new temple and the upper floor became the community hall.

When I went there for the first time, a different universe was revealed to me.

The men I saw every day at the Teleky Market – haggling, arguing, toiling – were now lined up in their prayer shawls like rows of larvae. The chamber seemed vast. It was ranged with columns, pictures, lamps and galleries. I could explore only a bit at a time: the pulpit; then the part ‘down there’; next what was ‘to the left of the entrance’. I was never able to make a proper map of it in my head. The light was also poor, and strange apparitions emerged from the gloom. I was greatly affected by the silvered hands which shone above the Torah. I was always startled when the rolls of parchment were pulled out from beneath the vestments. I conceived of those white-clad forms as another realm of life, accompanied by a light tinkling sound, without rhythm, which I had not heard before.

New York City: Crash Course
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