Inside a synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish place of worship. The word synagogue comes from the Greek word for gathering together. A synagogue can be a meeting place, a house of learning, and a house of prayer, so how people behave depends on what's happening there.
What is inside a synagogue?
Prayer Hall or Prayer Room
The main prayers in the synagogue happen in the prayer hall or the prayer room. This room is usually rectangular and has seats.
The Hebrew word bimah means platform. The bimah is the platform in the center of the synagogue. It is often covered by a cloth. The Torah is read from this platform.
The ark is a cabinet that contains the Torah scrolls. The scrolls are only removed from the ark to be read during services and special occasions.
The Torah scrolls are the most sacred objects in Judaism. Each scroll contains the Five Books of Moses.
The Ner Tamid is an eternal light which is often hung above the ark.
The amud is a lectern. The prayer book is placed on the amud and read from it.
A menorah is a sacred candle with seven branches. The Hanukkah menorah has nine branches. One for each day of Hanukka and one to light the rest.
If you want to learn more about Jewish festivals including Hanukka, read our Jewish festivals blog.
Who is in the synagogue?
The congregation in the synagogue are the people who have assembled there for religious worship.
The rabbi is the spiritual guide of the congregation. They deliver sermons.
The cantor is a member of the congregation who leads the prayers. This is considered an honour.
The gabbai keeps things organised and running smoothly in the synagogue.