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Roles of the synagogue.

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Part B- Roles of the synagogue The synagogue is a place for the Jewish people to worship God, or more particularly, where Jewish people can hear the Torah being read and pray to God. As well as functioning as a House of Prayer, or 'Beit ha Tefilah', the synagogue is also known as House of Assembly, 'Beit ha Knesset' and House of Study, 'Beit ha Midrash'. 'On three things the world stands', says the Mishnah, 'On the study of the Torah, on worship and on deeds of kindness'. This quote reflects the functions of the synagogue distinctly. 'The study of the Torah' is the reason the name 'House of Study' is given to the synagogue. The Torah is guidance to how Jews live; it is the fundamental basis of Judaism. 'On worship', the first commandment is to 'Worship one God', this shows the importance of worship and is the reason the name 'House of Prayer' is given to the synagogue. Worshipping together also gives more glory to God. 'On deeds of kindness', this is a suggestion of giving charity, and in a community you are and support one another. Charity suggests assembly because you gather together to show charity and 'deeds of kindness' to one another and others around. ...read more.


In the Northwood Orthodox Synagogue, activities, which also bring in 'House of Assembly', have been previously mentioned, such as 'Cheder' for children. 'Kabbalat Shabbat' is a special programme giving children the opportunity to act out Friday night rituals. The aspect of learning in the Orthodox Synagogue is put across with great importance because many of the activities are organised for children, suggesting that the Orthodox synagogue wants their younger generation to learn early, so that when they grow up they are fully bloomed Jews and can teach what they learn to their children. In the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, similar educational activities such as cheder take place. There is also a 'crash course' on offer for adults wanting to learn Hebrew. A Jewish nursery school known as 'Gan Etz Chayim' and parent toddler groups are also available. Overseas tours take place to places of Jewish interest, which helps with the study of Judaism as a whole. The Synagogue is known as House of Prayer, 'Beit ha Tefilah' because prayer is a daily mitzvah in Judaism. Jews say the Shema, which is the most important Jewish prayer. It is recited every morning and every evening in the synagogue and also at home. Prayers in the home and in the synagogue compliment each other. ...read more.


Prayer is included in all forms of worship in the synagogue: Shabbat services, festival services and the rites of passage - circumcision, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding and funerals. Circumcisions and weddings do not have to take place in the synagogue. In the Northwood Orthodox Synagogue leaflet there is a whole section devoted to informing the reader of the different services and festivals celebrated in the synagogue. This includes the itinerary for Shabbat and annual festivals such as Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and Pesach. There is a lot of emphasis put on prayer, especially on Shabbat. It is described as 'The special day of rest' by Rabbi Brawer in the leaflet, emphasising the importance of the prayers on this particular day. 'Striving to uncover the depth and substance of prayer', this is what takes place on Shabbat, once again reinforcing the power and importance of prayer in Orthodox Judaism. In the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, more emphasis is laid on social activities. In the leaflet there is only a small section on Prayer, which shows the ritual acts are not concentrated on as much as the ethical acts, as previously mentioned. Prayers are a mode of worship, a way to serve God. Prayer also binds the community together and serves the individual's spiritual needs. Since prayer services incorporate study and celebration, the three functions of the synagogue reflected in the three names, come together. Sabiha Kassam 10Mc ...read more.

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