The synagogue – Practices in Judaism – GCSE Religious Studies … – BBC

Posted By on August 26, 2023

Synagogue means bringing together or 'assembly'. A synagogue is a place of worship, gathering and education about the Jewish faith. On the outside of the building there is a Star of David and often a menorah.

The main prayers happen in the prayer hall, which is usually rectangular with seats on three sides facing inwards. There are certain features that appear in all synagogues, regardless of whether they are Orthodox or Reform.

A day in the life of Jess, a young Progressive (Reformed) Jew

A day in the life of Nachi, a young Orthodox Jew

The Star of David is a recognised symbol of Judaism and often found outside the synagogue

All synagogues have a large cupboard facing Jerusalem called the aron hakodesh. It is the holiest place in the synagogue. It is the centrepiece of the synagogue and holds the Torah. It symbolises the ark that held the tablets given to Moses.

The Sefer Torah is a scroll kept inside the aron hakodesh. Handwritten by a scribe, it is covered with a mantle or cloth that is ornately decorated.

The ner tamid is a light above the aron hakodesh that never goes out. Keep the lamps burning before the Lord. (Exodus 27:21)

The bimah is a raised platform with a reading desk. From here the Sefer Torah is read. The bimah is often placed in the centre of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, whereas Reform Jewish synagogues often have the bimah close to the aron hakodesh. The bimah represents the altar in the Temple.

There are no images of God or people in a synagogue, as the Ten Commandments forbid worshipping idols.

Men and women sit in separate sections in Orthodox Jewish synagogues, while Reform Jews of different genders sit together to worship.

Orthodox Jews often refer to a synagogue as shul, which means school, and Reform Jews sometimes call it a temple.

Prayer hall inside the Grand Choral Synagogue

A synagogue is a space for worship and prayer. Jews believe it is good to pray together, but there must be a minimum of ten people present for certain prayers to be said. This is called a minyan.

The synagogue is an important centre for Jewish communities where meetings take place and social gatherings happen.

It is a place of education with classes where people can learn Hebrew. Synagogues often hold charity events and have various activities for young people, such as youth clubs.

How many people are needed for a minyan?


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The synagogue - Practices in Judaism - GCSE Religious Studies ... - BBC

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