the importance of the synagogue

a synagogue is is space for Jews to meet for worship, study, social activites and charitable events.

the synagogue forms the center of the Jewish community

  • synagogues identified by: menorah or star of david on the outside of the building
  • synagogue known as: shul,house of prayer, or house of study

worship and prayer

  • certain prayers only to be said in the prescence of a minyan( group of 10 adults).
  •  synagogue provides a space for communal prayer and worship


  • synagogue helps to educate jews of all ages of their faith
  • provides classes in hebrew for young Jews to help them learn the language used in Jewish prayer
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interior features of a synagogue

The ark known as aron hakodesh

  • an ornament cabinet container where the Torah scrolls are kept
  • it is the holiest place in the synagogue and represents the orginal ark of the covenant

The ever burning light known as ner tamid

  • a light placed in front and slightly above the ark
  • it symbolises God's presence so it is never put out

The reading platform known as the bimah

  • a raised platform situated in most synagogues in the centre of the prayer hall
  • it provided a focal point when the Torah is being read, also reminds Jews of the altar which was the central feature of the courtyad in the temple of jerusalem
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worship in orthodox and reform synagogues

orthodox judaism

  • the traditonal branch of Judaism, they emphaisise of strictly following the laws of the troah
  • orthodox Jews believe men and women should have different roles. 

reform judaism

  • a type of progressive Judaism, they emphaisise of individual choice in deciding how to worship and practice the faith
  • reform Jews believe men and women should be able to undertake the same roles

orthodox services

  • daily services held, service in hebrew, men and women sit seperately and men always cover their head and married women cover their head

reform services

  • don't hold daily services, service in hebrew and country's own language, men and women sit together, most men and women wear skull hats
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daily services and prayer


  •  a prayer shawl made from wool or silk and has long tassel attached to each corner
  • the shawl reminds Jews they are obeying God's word whenever they wear it


  • a pair of small leather boxes containing extracts from the torah
  • reminds Jews that their mind should be concentrating fully on God when they pray and it shoud come from the heart

prayer is important to Jews because:

  • it helps Jews to remember what their faith is all about
  • it brings them closer to God and it is a way to communicate with God
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shabbat in the synagogue

shabbat is the Jewish holy day of the week. It is a day of rest and renewal starting before sunset on Friday and ends on sunset of Saturday

  • friday evening there is a brief service in the synagogue during which shabbat is welcomed like a bride
  • main service held on saturday morning and includes reading from Torah and often a sermon as well as prayers and blessing
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shabbat in the home


  • all work is done and the home is prepared before shabbat begins on friday evening 
  • at least 2 candles are placed on the table
  • 2 loaves of challah bread are placed on the table
  • wine or grape juice is placed on the table from a special globet known as the kiddush cup


  • most type of work is not allowed during shabbat
  • 2 candles represent the 2 commandments to remember and observe shabbat
  • represent the food God provided for Jews on shabbat whilst they were in the wilderness
  • drinking shabbat wine symbolises joy and celebration

female member of family lights 2 candles

after friday evening service, the family share a special meal

after saturday morning service family shares another special meal and spend time together

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worship in the home; written and oral law

Jews expected to pray 3 times a day which they can do either in the synagogue or in their home.

The tenakh is in 3 main parts

  •  the torah: first 5 books of moses whic form basis of Jewish law's
  • the nevi'im: 8 books continue to trace jewish history and expand on Jewish laws in the torah
  • the ketuvim: 11 books that contain a collection of poetry, stories, advice and historical accounts

the talmud is in 2 main parts

  • the mishnah: commentary on the Torah complied by rabbi 
  • the gemara: collection of discussions on the mishnah

reform jews do not regard the talmud and the tenakh with the same absolute authority and may not study them as much

for orthodox Jews, the torah and the talmud are considered to be the source of Jewish laws,teaching and they study it extensively

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ceremonies associated with birth

naming cermony

  • involves blessing the child in synagogue on the first shabbat after their birth. The baby's girl's name will be announced at this point a boy will be named at his circumcision
  • naming cermony formally introduces baby to the community and to God

brit milah

  • happens when the baby boy is 8 days old, a close friend or relative places baby on empty chair symbolising the presence of elijah. the baby is circumcised and family and guest join to celebrate
  • brit milah recalls the covenant God made with Abraham and provies male Jews they are one of God's choosen people
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bar and bat mitzvah

significance of bar and bat mitzvah

  • it is when a Jew is seen to become and adult
  • it is when jews are expected to start strictly following jewish law and taking full responsibility

celebrating a bar mitzvah

-after a boy's 13th birthday the boy reads from torah at the normal synagogue, he wears a tallit for the first time and the boy's father thanks God for bringing his son to maturity and after the service boy recieves gifts and a meal or party is held

celebrating a bat mitzvah

-orthodox jews sometimes mark a girl's bat mitzvah with a family meal and small religious gifts

- the girl reads from the torah and gives a short speech and may lead part of the service in the synagogue

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betrothal: refers to the period of time before the wedding cermony where the couple are engaged. usually last for 12 months

during year of betrothal couple do not live together, but do prepare for their future lives together 

betrothal has legal status in Jewish law and can only be broken by death or divorce

the wedding

  • before wedding couple may fast to cleanse themeselves of sin
  • betrothal cermony- bride joins groom under chuppah and they reciet 2 blessings over wine
  • marriage contract- signed and read out in the presence of witnesses and givem to the bride
  • marriage itself- bride circles groom 7 times and the groom breaks glass under heel and rabbi makes short speech and congergation wishes the couple good luck
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mourning for the dead

when death is announced: they make a small tear in their clothes and say a blessing which show they accept God's decesion to take a person's life.

first period of mourning: close family members left to grieve and are comforted and supported by other family members, most Jews usually buried soon after death as possible

second period of mourning:mouners don't work, stay at home and hold prayer services 3 times a day and mirrors are covered up so mouners don't focus on their apperance. known as shiva

third period of mourning: begins after shiva and last 30 days after person's death, normal life resumes but mourners don't go party or listen to music

final period of mourning: last for 11 months and mourners do not attend parties

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dietary laws

kosher food include: certain types of meat( cows and sheep) fish that has scales and fins and cheese that has been officially declared as kosher and any vegetables that are free of insects

dietry laws orginate from leviticus and deuteronomy

trefah food include: pork,camel,reptiles,rodents ans seafood without scales, cheese that ain't kosher and insects and amphibians

orthodox Jews: follow the dietray laws strictly and believe the laws have come from God to test their obidence and help develop their self control and remind them of the faith

many reformed Jews think the laws are outdated in modern british society and it is up to the invidual whether to follow them or not

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rosh hashanah and yom kippur

rosh hashanah remembers God's creation of the world and is also a day of judgement

improving God's judgement: Jews believe God's jugement can be influenced by their behaviour so they try to take actions to make up for it these include; prayer, doing charity work

celebrating at home: families share a festive meal with symbolic foods eg. apples dipped in honey symbolise hope for a sweet new year

attending services in the synagogue: prayer said, ram's horn blown 100 times and followed by a service with special prayers

yom kuppur- known as day of atonement is the holiest day in Jewish calender

attending services in the synagogue: focuses on asking God to forgive their sins and help to restore their relationships and take part in a general confessions of sins as community

observing rituals: during yom kippur jews fast for 25 hours and do not work, they don't have sex,bath or wear leather shoes and wear white as a symbol of purity

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pesach also known as passover is a festival that lasts for 7 or 8 days and it celebrate the Jew's escape from slavery in Egypt

on the first evening of peseach, families celebrate with a special meal

red wine: a reminder of the lamb's blood the Jews smeared over the doorsteps to save their children from the final plague

unleavened bread: fufils God's commandments to celebrate the escape from egypt by eating unleavend bread for 7 days (exodus 12:15)

seder plate:

  • green vegetable: symbolises new life
  • salt water: symbolises the tears shed in slavery
  • bitter herbs: symbolises the bitterness of slavery
  • egg and lamb bone: reminder of the sacrifice made in the temple
  • sweet charoset: symbolise the motar jews has to use when slaves remind jew's life is now sweeter
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