The synagogue

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The synagogue is much more to the Jewish community than a place of worship. It is the visible focus of the community in an area. Most synagogues will be a combination of prayer hall, community centre, religious school, library and meeting place.

Synagogues probably began about 2,500 years ago when the Jew was exiled to Babylon. Because they could no longer go to the temple in Jerusalem they began to gather together in each others houses for prayer. These soon proved to be too small and so they built houses of worship. When they returned to the land of Israel they continued to build synagogues as a local place to study the scriptures and to act as law courts. In 70CE the temple was destroyed by the Romans and since the Jews believed that only God can rebuild the temple it remained destroyed. The Jews who lived in Israel were scattered all over the world and in each Jewish community the synagogue has become the focus for the community. The most important function of the synagogue is worship, and all synagogues are laid out in the pattern of the sanctuary in the temple of Jerusalem.

  • The Ark The most important thing in the synagogue is the Ark. The ark is like a cupboard. The ark is set into the wall of the synagogue

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