Inauguration of the Slat-al-Fassiyine synagogue in Fez
Hassan Alaoui

FEZ – It had served over the years as a prison, a carpet factory and a boxing gym. But last week, the building in this ancient Moroccan city's central medina was officially returned to its original incarnation: the Slat-al-Fassiyine synagogue was inaugurated by King Mohammed VI after a long-anticipated restoration.

Rare in the Arab world to see political leaders shower so much attention on the reopening of a Jewish holy place, many top government officials were on hand to inaugurate the 17th century synagogue in the ancient Fez quartier that is classified as a World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The event was a reminder of how important Judaism is in the history of Morocco, and was the latest effort by the country's leaders to promote religious tolerance. King Mohammed was the driving force in the event, and gave a speech before leaders of Morocco's Jewish community, as well as representatives of the German government, which helped finance the restoration.

“It’s precisely this Jewish specificity that constitutes today, following the kingdom’s new constitution, one of the timeless sources of national identity," the King said. "This is why we call for the renovation of every Jewish temple in the kingdom, so that they won’t simply be holy places, but also spaces for cultural dialogue and renewal of the founding values of this land.”

The Judeo-Moroccan Patrimony Foundation's President Serge Berdugo noted the "message of peace and tolerance" in the restoration.

"Slat-al-Fassiyine teaches us a beautiful lesson. It represented the past, bound to disappear," Berdugo said. "Its restoration process anticipated the future, and that future is now. Moroccan Judaism’s time has come. It’s a motherly community, aware of its history and full of projects for the times to come. This community is part of the Moroccan reality. It can fully enjoy its civic rights, religious freedom and full conscience of its responsibilities.”

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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