The synagogue

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The synagogue is one of the most important institutions in Judaism. It houses the Torah scrolls are kept in an Ark. However, it is by no means merely a house of prayer. In essence, it is the centre of the community.

Inside the prayer space in the synagogue, there will be an ‘Ark’ facing towards Jerusalem (the capital of ancient Israel), so that Jews will always have their minds turned in that direction when praying. Inside the Ark are kept the scrolls of the Torah, which are often beautifully decorated. In front of the ark or hanging by the side of it will be an eternal light. Covering the front of the Ark will be a curtain. All these artefacts represent features in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem.

In the synagogue there is a usually a bimah, or platform, from which the services are led and the Torah is read. However, this is often not the case in a Reform synagogue where religious practices are not as traditional as in an Orthodox community.