A Synagogue Essay

1730 words - 7 pages

A Synagogue

A synagogue will look like any other building from the outside - the
only sign you might get from the outside is the star of David which is
called magen David in the Hebrew tongue. There may also be a sign
outside stating the name of the synagogue. There are many names for a
synagogue such as; shul - which means school in Hebrew, bet haknesset,
which means house of assembly - this is only used by Sephardim, which
is oriental Jews. A synagogue is primarily a place of worship but also
functions as a community centre for the Jews. The building is so
important that the whole Jewish community that worship there will
revolve around the building. It is used as a teaching school for
Jewish children where they will be taught the Hebrew alphabet, numbers
of Hebrew and about their faith. This school is a Jewish equivalent to
a Christian 'Sunday school.'

If you now go inside you would see that the synagogue is rectangular
and although you will not realise it, but the whole synagogue is built
facing Israel, if possible, Jerusalem. There will be a sink where the
congregation will wash their hands and feet before praying or
worshipping. You will also notice that there are separate seats. This
is because in orthodox synagogues, the men sit on the ground floor and
worship and the women sit in the gallery. There is a good reason for
this - and not because the Jews are sexist - but because in Judaism,
the men take on the role of worshipping and the women are expected to
look after the house and the children so if people were late (the
women). This may be because they had to change the baby or something
like that so instead of disturbing the congregation and asking a row
to stand up so she can get to her seat the mother can just slip into
the gallery. The male children will stay with their mothers until they
are thirteen and have had their bar mitzvah and then they will join
their fathers. So you would go and sit in the appropriate section and
you would notice a raised platform in the centre. This is a bimah in
Hebrew and it is where the rabbi stands to deliver his sermons.
Another name for a bimah is an almemar. The bimah is raised to
symbolise that when the scrolls are being read from it, that the
scrolls are above the congregation, this shows that the word of god
contained in them and god himself is more important and higher than
anybody in that congregation. It is also at the centre of the
synagogue symbolising that god is at the centre of people's lives.
There will also be a cupboard or alcove called the ark, which is the
most important feature of the synagogue as it is where the torah is
kept, these will be in the ark and are the Jewish 'bible.' The ark
will be covered with a parachet (a curtain) you will know that this
place is holy and important, as it will be beautifully...

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