A synagogue's exact dimensions vary, reflecting the culture, requirements, finances, and tastes of individuals who constructed and utilize it. However, you may normally anticipate it to have seats (or pews) positioned so that worshipers face Jerusalem, which was formerly the site of the Holy Temple and the conduit via which all prayers rise to G-d. The ark, where the Torah is kept, will usually be at one end of the room with an elevated platform (cantor's chair) behind it so the rabbi can read from the holy book without having to stand. The other end of the room will typically contain a table or two for the hazzan (minister) to conduct services while standing.
The layout of a synagogue is often important because it indicates the role the institution plays in Jewish life. For example, if a synagogue is made up of rows of chairs instead of pews, this would suggest that the primary purpose of the building is as a place of prayer for the community rather than as a place where they meet for business meetings or lectures.
There are many different styles of synagogue architecture, but most feature a central hall with rooms attached to either side. There may be a small foyer between the entrance and the main body of the building where candles are lit on the Sabbath and during holidays. This is the area where coats and bags are checked before entering the synagogue.
In some synagogues, there are separate rooms for men and women.
The seating configuration in the synagogue should reflect the congregation's personality and preferences. Shalva Synagogue's upholstered seating system, Jerusalem. The seating design selected in certain synagogues includes a storage chamber for the prayer shawl and tefillin. These items are kept locked up in this repository during services so as not to be seen by everyone else.
Other synagogues may have chairbacks and/or kneelers in front of each seat. Still others may have pews that can be divided into several sections or rows. Some large cities may have separate seating for men and women.
The choice of seating arrangement is very much a matter of personal preference and style. However, it is important that the seating configuration be functional and allow for adequate space between individuals. For example, if there is no aisles in the synagogue building, then people should be seated so they don't block access to the door. They should also be far enough away from the speaker that they don't cause noise problems.
In addition, the type of seating used should accommodate those who need assistance using the standard service procedures. For example, those who are unable to sit for long periods of time because of health issues might want to consider seats with armrests. Or, if there are young children in the congregation, a seating area set aside just for them may be useful.
"What exactly is a synagogue?" A synagogue is a Jewish religious structure (similar to a modern church building). Though some Jewish traditions say that synagogues have existed "from the time of Moses," history records that the practice of gathering in synagogues began during Israel's Babylonian exile. The Bible describes the temple in Jerusalem as the place where God went ahead of his people (see Ex. 19:24–25; Isa. 56:7). But since the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, Jews have met in buildings for worship instead.
In Judaism, a person cannot be a rabbi unless he is ordained by a recognized authority within his faith. Thus, rabbis do not usually come from the Jewish community but are often drawn from other religions or fields of study. In fact, it is not even required that they be Jewish at all. Many rabbis in modern times have been non-Jews who have adopted a Jewish lifestyle and observed Jewish law through ceremonies or rituals performed by an Orthodox Rabbi.
The first known evidence that Jews had built houses of prayer dates back to about 200 BC. At that time, priests commissioned by the king of Judah built rooms where they could pray. These were probably located in the palace itself rather than in separate buildings. Around 50 AD, these rooms were replaced with new structures that still contained material from the old ones. These new buildings were located in what is now Israel and on what is now Columbia University in New York City.