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The Orthadox Synagogue

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By Emily Houghton 10G a. (i) What does the word synagogue mean and how did it come into being? The synagogue is where a congregation or assembly of Jews meet for the purpose of worship, or the performance of religious rites. It is the visible focus of the community in an area. Most synagogues will be a combination of prayer hall, community centre, religious school, and library and meeting place. Synagogues emerged about 2,500 years ago when the Jewish people were exiled to Babylon and their temple destroyed. The temple was the centre of the Jewish faith and was situated in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. It was an extremely important building which many people visited on pilgrimages. In the centre of the temple was the ark containing the Torah given to Moses by God. The temple was built by King Solomon but was later destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, beyond repair. At the same time the Jewish people were taken captive and exiled to Babylon. Because they could no longer visit the temple the Jewish people met together in others houses as an attempt to keep their faith alive. These meetings later became formalised and specific places of worship were built, the beginning of the synagogue. ...read more.


However exceptions to this rule are candelabras and images of the Star of David. The Candelabras usually are a representation of the light that burned in the temple in Jerusalem; however there may be another Menorah which is used at the festival of Chanukah (the festival of lights in which the menorah burned for 8 days on oil only meant to last 2.) Unlike the candelabra which usually has flame shaped light bulbs and is electrically lit (to represent the idea of eternal light) the Menorah will have candle holders and there will be nine branches unlike the others 7 holders. b. Explain why Jews variously describe a synagogue as: ' House of Assembly', "House of study', and 'House of prayer'. What is the significance of these names for the life and belief of Jews today? The synagogue has many functions and is used by the community in many ways. It is a main focus of the Jewish faith and it has a great impact on the community. It is describe by many Jews as a House of Study, House of Prayer and House of Assembly. House of Prayer- Bet HaTefillah. The synagogue is the place where Jews will come to pray to God on the Sabbath and other annual festivals. ...read more.


They may also explore the other aspects of the Jewish religion. When converting to Judaism the person will have to be taught everything about the religion and the Rabbi will arrange for the teachings to take place. It is a religion very much based around knowledge and the understanding of what you are doing to respect and love God. The Rabbi will also help prepare young boys for their Bar Mitzvah. It is at the age of 13 that children become obligated to observe the Mitzvot and commandments. By becoming having a Bar Mitzvah the boy now has the right to take part in the Minyan during the services. In the ceremony he will be expected to read from the Torah, recite prayers and sing hymns. The Rabbi will help him learn about his faith whilst teaching him about his role in the community. House of Assembly- Bet HaKnesset. The synagogue is a place where Jews will meet for worship on regular services and annual services. However the synagogue is also used for many non-religious activities. It forms the focus of the community and is used for many functions and meetings. Events such as Bat/Bar Mitzvahs are held in the synagogue and the family of the boy or girl will often ask the community to share in their celebration. There may also be a Shabbat kiddushim banquets held in the honour of the bar or mat mitzvah. ...read more.

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