"study house." Synagogues are sanctified locations used for prayer, Tanakh (the complete Hebrew Bible, including the Torah) reading, study, and assembly. A synagogue, on the other hand, is not required for Jewish worship. There are several hundred synagogues in Israel today; many more existed in ancient times.
"place of worship." Although a synagogue does not have to be built according to strict Jewish law, it is impractical for most communities to construct buildings without any form of financial support from outside sources or government subsidies. Thus, most modern synagogues are constructed with this use in mind.
"centre of Jewish life." In addition to being places of religious practice, synagogues play an important role in Jewish society. They provide a center for communal activity such as meetings, classes, and activities for children and adults alike. Many also have kosher kitchens that are open to the public daily. This is especially true in larger cities where there may be only one other synagogue in the area.
"a house of God". The Hebrew term for "synagogue" is "shul", which means "a gathering together" or "a congregation". As such, a synagogue is a place where Jews come together to pray, learn, celebrate festivals, and conduct business. It is here that they interact with each other and with their rabbi.
According to Halakha, community Jewish prayer can be performed anywhere 10 Jews (a minyan) gather. However, most modern synagogues include space for worship as well as for storage of religious articles and communal use of facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms.
A synagogue building usually includes a sanctuary for God's name to help him listen to his people, a room for reading from the Torah, a room for holy writings called an ark, a room for musical instruments such as a shofar (ram's horn), a room for incense, a room for food offerings, and a room for social interaction. The synagogue may have more than one room if necessary. For example, some synagogues have separate rooms for men and women for special prayers or readings.
Modern synagogues vary in design, but they all share certain essential features. The holiest part of the synagogue is known as the altar or bimah. Here, sacrifices were offered on behalf of the whole community, and the Torah was given at Mount Sinai. The base of the altar may be made of wood, but it must be solid stone or brick for ritual purposes. In ancient synagogues, the altar was often just a flat area where people could prepare food offerings.
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer and learning. A synagogue is a venue where Jews gather to pray. The word "synagogue" comes from the Greek term synagoge, which means "where people come together to talk about God." In Roman-occupied Judea, the word was used for any public meeting place where merchants could trade goods. As time passed, the word took on its current meaning: a place of worship for Jews.
In ancient Israel, the monarchy was largely restricted to members of the tribe of Judah. King David began building a temple for Yahweh on Mount Zion but did not live to see it completed. After his death, the nation was divided between two kingdoms: Israel to the north and Judah to the south. The northern kingdom collapsed in 722 B.C. while the southern kingdom fell in 586 B.u.c.. Remnants of both nations lived together in what is now Palestine. Although they had their own governments and laws they often fought each other. By the first century A.D., no more than ten to fifteen thousand Jews remained in Palestine. Most were farmers living in fortified cities or villages. They kept some religious practices but neither built temples nor wrote Torah scrolls.