The story of the Tiferet Israel Synagogue completes the annals of the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem. In the late 18th century, the first Ashkenazi hasidim arrived in Israel, initially settling in Hebron. After the return of the Ashkenazi perushim to Jerusalem in the 19th century, the hasidim also began to settle in the city. In 1843, on the initiative of Rabbi Israel Bak, the owner of the first Hebrew printing press in the city, they purchased land and were successful in obtaining permission to construct a large synagogue.
This building was extremely tall, perhaps in an attempt to compete with the synagogue of the perushim. But contributions for the synagogue did not arrive as quickly as needed and for many years it stood without a dome. In 1869, the Austrian emperor, Franz-Josef, visited Jerusalem, after having participated in the opening of the Suez Canal. He wished to visit some of his Jewish hasidic subjects and, when he was a guest in the unfinished synagogue, he inquired why it had no dome.
The reply he received was: ''Your Majesty the Emperor, the Synagogue has doffed its hat for you!''. The Emperor took the hint and donated the necessary sum. The official name of the Synagogue, which was inaugurated in 1872, was the Tiferet Israel Synagogue, after Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin, the founder of the Ruzhin and Sadigura hasidic dynasties, which helped in its construction. Jerusalemites, however, knew it as the Nissan Bak Synagogue, after the son of Rabbi Israel Bak and one of the community's leaders.
Like the Hurva Synagogue, this building also served as a position for the defenders of the Jewish Quarter during the War of Independence and it was blown up by the Arabs one hour after midnight on the night of May 20-21, 1948. Following the Six-Day War, the decision was made to leave the ruins of the synagogue as they were.