The synagogue

A synagogue is the Jewish place of worship. Jews will gather in the synagogue:

  • to pray as a community
  • to study
  • to celebrate different rites of passage and festivals
  • to assemble as a Jewish community
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The Jewish word for synagogue is ‘Beth ha Knesset’ meaning ‘house of assembly’.

Minyan

Although Jews can say their prayers anywhere, and do not always have to pray at the synagogue, many Jews believe it is an important part of their faith to pray with others from the Jewish community.

Jews call their congregational worship the minyan. This requires at least ten Jewish men to be present to carry out public worship. Most Jews will visit the synagogue at least once a week for communal prayer and some observant Jews may go every evening.

Place of study

Many Jews will also use the synagogue as a place to study. Young Jews will attend lessons where they will learn the basic religious teachings of the faith. Older Jews will study the Torah throughout their lives, and most synagogues will have a library full of the Jewish sacred texts for their followers to study.

Celebrations

The synagogue is also used as a place for various Jewish rites of passage and celebrations to take place. Ceremonies such as the Bar Mitzvah and Jewish wedding and funeral ceremonies will all take place in the synagogue. Other ceremonies will also take place in the synagogue during festival times such as Shabbat service, which takes place every week.

Jewish community

The synagogue is also a place for social gatherings and activities. Many synagogues play the function of a town hall, where different social events will often take place every week.

Question

Describe the importance of the synagogue for Jews.

The synagogue is the Jewish place of worship. It is an important place for Jews because it is where the Torah scrolls are kept. It is also important for Jews because it is a place they can go to take part in public worship, such as the minyan. They can also use the synagogue as a place to study the Torah, celebrate religious festivals, such as Hanukkah, and socialise.