Today was an insightful opportunity to experience first hand an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue and find out more about what is involved within Jewish worship. Those of the Jewish faith refer to the Synagogue as ‘Schul’ which translated from Hebrew means ‘assembly’ as those of the Jewish faith assemble together within to worship G-d.
Above: In the centre of the photo is what is known in Hebrew as a ‘Bimah’. This is a raised platform in which the Torah Scroll is read from during prayer by a member of the congregation. Below in the photo can be identified as Jewish prayer books in which members of the congregation can take at any time to perform prayer during each day.
Above: Within this photo behind the stand (where a Rabbi will stand to read sermons at the end of a prayer service) is the ark, also known as ‘Aron Kodesh’ where the Torah scroll is stored and only taken out during a congregational service. Above the ark beneath the Star of David reads in Hebrew, “I always have the almighty before my eyes”. This therefore suggests how those of the Jewish faith have G-d with them in their mind during every aspect of the day. Also above the Star of David (which can’t be seen in the photo) is a lamp known as a ‘Ner Tamid’ which is representative of the constant light which was within the Temple of Jeruslem.
Above (both): At both sides of the Ark in every Schul you will also find two marble plaques. One will always contain a prayer for the Jewish faith and the other will always contain a prayer for the country. This is representative of every Schul in every country. This is due to the fact the obligation of Judaism is twofold, as you must follow Jewish law (Torah/Talmud) and also follow the laws of the land you live within.
You will also find a storage box beneath every seat within the Schul which contains a Tallat and a prayer book so that it will be there ready for when a memeber of the congregation attends on Shabbat (day of rest). Each memeber of the congregation pays rent for their seat which goes towards the running of the Schul and payment of the Rabbi (payment amount is decided by the congregation).
Above: Jewish prayer books for members of the congregation to use when visiting to pray. Just above this shelf is the women’s section of the Schul as men and women worship separately in an Orthodox Schul.
During prayer a Jewish individual will wrap a Tefillin around their head (contains small parchments of scripture from the Torah) and also a Tefillin around the arm seven times which is placed next to the heart. This is to symbolise the fact G-d should be next to your heart and mind at all times during prayer. Then the Tallit (prayer shawl) is worn which has the Tzitzit hanging at the bottom to represent the 613 laws of the Torah. A Kippah is also worn on the head to represent the fact G-d is always above you.
We also had the chance to visit a Kosher restaurant near the Schul and had a lovely meal that adheres to Kashrut dietary laws.
Overall a very educational day to experience first hand a Jewish place of worship and learn more about the Jewish faith.