• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What does the word 'synagogue' mean and how did synagogues come into being?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

i) What does the word 'synagogue' mean and how did synagogues come into being? The word synagogue is derived from a Greek word 'synagein', meaning 'to gather together'. Originally it referred to the assembling of people, and then to the place where they gathered, but today a synagogue is a community centre with several different purposes. The synagogue is a multi-purpose building and so there are various other terms used, including Hebrew Bet Haknesset, meaning 'house of assembly', Bet Hatephilah, meaning 'house of prayer and Bet Hamidrash, meaning 'house of study'. Orthodox Jews often use the word 'shul', derived from the German 'schule' meaning school. This is because a primary function of the synagogue is learning. Many Progressive Jews will use the word 'temple', because they consider all their places of worship to be equivalent to, or representative of, the Temple. However this is offensive to many traditional Jews as they see it as slighting to the Temple. The synagogue has so many functions that it is impossible to define it with just one word, hence the several different names. However the overall purpose of all synagogues is to worship God, though a synagogue cannot contain God, and is not consecrated ground. ...read more.

Middle

The seating will be segregated, with women sitting in an upper gallery, away from the male congregation. This is different to Progressive synagogues, where the bimah will be at the front of the synagogue, and men and women will often sit together. This is a description of an Orthodox synagogue and so will have differences to that of a Progressive synagogue. Externally, synagogues differ vastly, but there is one significant feature that will be present within all Jewish places of worship. All synagogues must have windows, like the Temple, letting light in. This is for two reasons; firstly, their worship should not be set apart from everyday life, as this leads faith to become more introspective than it should be. Religion is not something that should be incorporated into the life of a Jew, but rather should be their way of life, and should not be seen as something separate. Secondly, the windows let light in. The light pouring in represents God's strength, and guidance, and his presence in the synagogue. Often, the windows will be stained glass or etched glass, depicting the Magen David, or Star of David. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Ark also contains a breastplate, or Hoshen, from the days of the Temple when the high priest wore a breastplate and the Yad, a pointer used for reading the Torah. The words of the Torah are sacred, so it is important to use a Yad, to prevent the words from being smudged by a finger. The letters are only resting on top of the pages, so it is important that they are not scratched. Daily Prayer books, or Siddurim, are also present. Hung in front of the Ark is an embroidered curtain, or Parochet. In the days of the Temple, an embroidered curtain was hung in front of the Holy of Holies, to signify the sanctity of it, and this is what the curtain in front of the Ark indicates. There will often be evidence of Hebrew, as this is the sacred language of the Jews. Jewish children of orthodox background are always taught Hebrew, to ensure it does not die out. (PICTURE - Ark) Above the Ark is the Ner Tamid, the ever-burning light. This, like the light pouring through the windows represents God's strength, power and eternal presence. (PICTURE - Ner Tamid) Though it is common for modern synagogues to use electrical lights, some still use an oil lamp. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Judaism section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Judaism essays

  1. Pesach is the biggest of the three pilgrim festivals, along with Sukkot and Shavuot ...

    And you shall see that I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians and they shall follow you. Then I shall show my power over the Pharaoh and over all his armies, his chariots and his horsemen." Just as good as God's word, the waves of the Red Sea parted

  2. Festivals vs Pilgrimage in Judaism

    I don't honestly think takes precedence over the other. Rather, they are intrinsically related. Together they are important aspects that make up Judaism. The religion does not rely on only one, nor really does it rely on both as they are not the key principles of religion.

  1. Reformed Jews and Orthodox Jews. Explain how the differing worship and lifestyle of these ...

    The Torah's insistence of "An eye for an eye", for example, was never meant to be taken literally, Moses was taught that it meant the financial value of the lost eye.

  2. Being Jewish in Britain today

    Their literature described Jews as descendants of the devil - 'You [referring to Jews because of the verses before and after it's mention on Jews] are from your fathers desires. He was murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.

  1. Place of worship

    Traditionally, women would have sat behind a lattice screen that enabled them to see what was going on but prevented men from being able to see them. However the Reform synagogue is much more different to the Orthodox synagogue.

  2. a) Pesach is the biggest of the three pilgrim festivals, along with Sukkot and ...

    Seder is the highlight of the Passover, the word Seder means order or organisation and the Passover Seder is a festive meal conducted in an organised way so that all the Mitzvot of Pesach are forfilled. The Torah commands that during the Seder meal and all of Passover, Exodus is highly spoken of.

  1. Describe the main features of a synagogue and explain their significance (specify which tradition ...

    Because the word synagogue literally means 'to gather together', there is strong emphasis on creating a sense of community within the congregation. The prejudice Jews have faced throughout the ages means that they rely strongly upon each other, and many orthodox Jews choose only to associate with other Jews.

  2. Describe and explain the ways in which the Sabbath is observed in the Jewish ...

    The family may also be brought together by the enjoyment of preparing for their celebrations in the home, as young Christian children celebrate Christmas together and really get along in the 'Christmas Spirit', the same can be said of young, Jewish children who prepare for the celebrations and the special meal.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work