synagogue services 2012 version

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Synagogue Services
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
Basic Beliefs of Judaism
One G-d: creator and ruler of the universe
A moral law prescribed by G-d
The Covenant
© Sharon Brien
Students learn about:
Students learn to:
 ONE significant
 describe ONE significant
practice within
practice within Judaism:
Synagogue services
Synagogue services  demonstrate how this
practice expresses the
beliefs of Judaism
 analyse the significance of
this practice for both the
individual and the Jewish
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
Observance - Devotion
Devotion in Judaism is understood as
observances that are obligatory actions. These
include daily prayer and weekly synagogue
service as well as marking significant events
such as birth, puberty, marriage and death.
© Sharon Brien
Synagogue services
 The word synagogue means “leading together”.
 Synagogue is commonly spoken of as a “Shul" by
Orthodox Jews, “Synagogue" by Conservative, and
"Temple" by Reform. "Synagogue" is a good all-around
word to cover the preceding three possibilities.
 The activities of the synagogue are many and varied.
 In most places the synagogue faces towards Jerusalem
reflecting the importance of the city for Jews.
 The emphasis in Jewish worship in on avadah sh’belev –
worship of the heart.
© Sharon Brien
Synagogue organisation
 Synagogues are generally run by a board of directors composed of lay people.
They manage and maintain the synagogue and its activities, and hire a rabbi for
the community. It is worth noting that a synagogue can exist without a rabbi:
religious services can be, and often are, conducted by lay people in whole or in
part. It is not unusual for a synagogue to be without a rabbi, at least temporarily.
However, the rabbi is a valuable member of the community, providing
leadership, guidance and education.
 Synagogues do not pass around collection plates during services. This is largely
because Jewish law prohibits carrying money on holidays and Shabbat.
Tzedakah (donation) is routinely collected at weekday morning services, but this
money is usually given to charity, not to the synagogue itself. Instead,
synagogues are financed through membership dues paid annually, through
voluntary donations, through the purchase of reserved seats for services on
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the holidays when the synagogue is most
crowded), and through the purchase of various types of memorial plaques. It is
important to note, however, that you do not have to be a member of a
synagogue in order to worship there.
 Synagogues are, for the most part, independent community organisations.
There are central organisations for the various movements of Judaism, and
synagogues are often affiliated with these organisations, but these organisations
have no real power over individual synagogues.
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
Aspect of devotion
Features: synagogue service
Officiating celebrant
Rabbi or representative of the minyan leads
the ritual
Role of the community
 Cantors respond to the prayers lead by the
 Orthodox and conservative service is
conducted in Hebrew
 Rabbi highlights key features of the reading
instructing participants
Use of Sacred text
© Sharon Brien
Aspect of devotion
Features: synagogue service
Features of the synagogue Aron ha-kodesh – Ark where the Torah
Scrolls are kept
Torah Scrolls – can only be read if a minyan
is present
Ner Tamid – Eternal light which burns
permanently in front of the Ark
Bimah – the raised platform from which the
Torah is read directly in front of the Ark and
traditionally in the centre of the building.
A kippah or yamulke is the cap worn by
Jewish men.
A talit or prayer shawl is worn by Jewish
Tefillah or phylacteries contain passages
from Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 6 and 11
which require Jews to bind these
commandments upon their hands and
between their eyes,
Siddur – the daily prayer book
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
The Ark
 The Aron HaKodesh (Holy Ark) is what makes the worship
space a synagogue. Any room can be used for prayer, and
Jew frequently pray in the study hall or someone's home. A
room with a permanent Ark is a synagogue. The Ark contains
at least one Torah scroll, a handwritten scroll containing the
Five Books of Moses (called in Hebrew the Chumash; also
known as the Pentateuch in English). Many congregations
own several scrolls. It is a great honour to be able to give the
synagogue a Torah scroll as a gift. The presence of the Ark
renders the room sacred space. Often, other objects will be
stored in the ark, as well, including a Megillah (the Scroll of
Esther read on Purim), perhaps a Havdalah set (including
the candle and spice box used for the ceremony concluding
Shabbat) and occasionally a shofar (the ram's horn blown on
Rosh Hashanah). Storing these items in the Ark is a matter
of convenience. The essential thing is the Sefer Torah (scroll
of Torah).
© Sharon Brien
 The Ark of a modern synagogue is reminiscent of the ark
in which the Israelites kept the Torah which, according to
tradition, G-d gave Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai.
The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box overlaid with
gold, which the Israelites carried with them throughout
their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and then
brought to the Land of Israel where it was kept at the
religious center in Shiloh. King David brought it to
Jerusalem, amidst a procession including music and
dancing, when he made the Holy City his capital. After
King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, the ark was
installed in the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary, of the
 Whenever the ark is opened, the congregation is
expected to stand. The congregation prays facing the
ark; the ark faces Jerusalem. Thus, all Jews face
Jerusalem when they pray. For Jews, Jerusalem is the
spiritual centre of the universe.
 The Ark is covered by a curtain, called a
parochet, just as the Holy of Holies in the
Temple in Jerusalem, was separated from
the rest of the sanctuary by a curtain
called a parochet. The parochet remains
closed throughout the service except when
the Torah is removed and returned to the
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
Ner Tamid
 An Eternal Light (Ner Tamid) hangs above the ark in
every synagogue. It is often associated with the
menorah, the seven-branched lamp stand which stood in
front of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Ner Tamid as a
symbol of G-d's eternal and imminent presence in the
communities and in the lives of all Jews. It is also
symbolic of their eternal covenant with G-d; for Jews.
 Where once the Ner Tamid was an oil lamp, as was the
menorah which stood outside the Temple in Jerusalem,
today most are fuelled by either gas or electric light
bulbs. They are never extinguished or turned off.
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
The Torah Scroll
The Torah contains the Five Books of Moses, whose English and Hebrew
names are:
Genesis Beraishit
Exodus Shemot
Leviticus Vayikra
Numbers B'midbar
Deuteronomy Devarim
The Torah is divided into parshiot (Torah portions) which are generally three
to five chapters in length. The parshiot are read, in order, each Shabbat
throughout the year, in a yearly cycle which begins and ends on Simchat
Torah (a holiday which follows Sukkot).
On holy days, festivals and other special occasions, special passages
outside the cycle of reading are read.
Hebrew consists of consonants and vowels. However, unlike English, most
printed Hebrew contains only consonants. In fact, the vowel system in
Hebrew, which appears to many as a series of dots and dashes under and
around the consonants, was invented sometime around the fifth century,
when Jews no longer spoke Hebrew has their primary language, and
required the help of vowels to pronounce holy texts correctly. Printed
editions of the Torah contain vowels, as well as cantillation symbols (called
trop) which signify the proper way to chant the text.
© Sharon Brien
Torah ornaments
The Torah is dressed and
decorated because it is
holy and is considered
the core of G-d's
communication with
Israel. The manner in
which it is dressed and
decorated, however, is
symbolic of the garb worn
by the High Priest of old
when he served G-d in
the sanctuary of the
Temple in Jerusalem.
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
Kippah (Yarmulke)
 It is customary for Jews to wear a head covering when
praying. Many Jews wear a head covering whenever
they are awake, with the exceptions of bathing and
swimming. In Hebrew, the small, round head covering
worn out of respect for G-d, and as a sign of recognition
that there is something greater and above us, is called a
kippah, which literal means "dome" or "cuppola." The
Yiddish word is yarmulke. The kippah also serves as a
symbol of Jewish identity and loyalty.
 The minhag (custom) of wearing a kippah has no basis
in Jewish law, either in the Bible or later rabbinic law.
 A more traditional slant on the etymology of yarmulke
holds that it derives from the expression yarei
mei'Elohim ("in awe of G-d"), based upon the statement
by Huna ben Joshua (5th century Talmudic scholar) who
said, "I never walked four cubits with my head uncovered
because G-d dwells above my head“.
© Sharon Brien
Two books are used during Jewish prayer; the siddur (prayer book) and the
chumash (a printed edition of the Torah).
The term "siddur" is derived from the Hebrew root "order" because the
prayers are recited in a prescribed order. The prayer book was developed
over the course of more than 2000 years, with additions and amendments
from virtually every age and generation. There are many different prayer
books in use these days, reflecting the differences among Jewish
communities, however the overall structure, and much of the wording is the
same in all of them.
A printed edition of the Torah, called a chumash, is used when the Torah is
read, so that the congregation can follow along with the reading. Most
chumashim (plural of chumash) have the Hebrew text with an English
translation printed in facing columns. Below you will often find a line-by-line
commentary explaining the editor's interpretation of the text. There are
many editions of the chumash in print, ranging from very traditional
approaches, to far more liberal and academic interpretations.
Both the siddur and the chumash are considered sifrei kodesh (holy books)
because they contain the tetragrammaton (the ineffable Name of G-d). They
should never be placed on the floor or left sitting open and unattended on
the chair. If a volume is dropped accidentally, it is customary to pick it up
and kiss it.
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
 A shofar is an instrument made from the horn of a ram or
other kosher animal. It was used in ancient Israel to
announce the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh) and call people
together. It was also blown on Rosh Hashanah, marking the
beginning of the New Year, signifying both need to wake up
to the call to repentance, and in connection with the portion
read on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Binding of
Isaac (Genesis, chapter 22) in which Abraham sacrifices a
ram in place of his son, Isaac.
 Today, the shofar is featured most prominently in the Rosh
Hashanah morning services. It is considered a
commandment to hear the shofar blown.
 It must be an instrument in its natural form and naturally
hollow, through which sound is produced by human breath,
which G-d breathes into human beings. This pure, and
natural sound, symbolizes the lives it calls Jews to lead.
What is more, the most desirable shofar is the bent horn of a
ram. The ram reminds one of Abraham's willing sacrifice of
that which was most precious to him. The curve in the horn
© Sharon
the contrition of the one who repents.
© Sharon Brien
 The seven-branched lamp stand which stood in the Temple in
Jerusalem is symbolised in many modern sanctuaries by the
menorah. The seven branches, mirroring the seven days in a week
(the Six Days of Creation plus the Sabbath) reflect Creation itself
© Sharon Brien
 It is customary to have a representation of the Ten
Commandments over the ark, symbolising the Torah which is
inside the ark. Depictions of the luchot (tablets) on which the
Ten Commandments were inscribed give rise to many Jewish
art forms.
 The Ten Commandments are found twice in the Torah:
Exodus, chapter 20 and Deuteronomy, chapter 5. There are
minor differences between the two versions, in Exodus and
Deuteronomy. For example, Exodus cites creation as the
reason for keeping Shabbat, while Deuteronomy cites the
experience as slaves in Egypt as the primary reason.
Similarly, while Exodus tells Jews to remember the Sabbath
day and keep it holy, Deuteronomy instructs them to observe
the Sabbath day and keep it holy (this, by the
way, is the source of the tradition of lighting
two candles as Shabbat begins: one each for
remember and observe).
© Sharon Brien
 Tefillin (t’FĬL-lĭn), called phylacteries in English, are worn
by observant Jewish men and by some Jewish women as
a reminder of their Covenant with G-d. They are put on
during morning prayers only, not on the Jewish Sabbath
or most holidays because these times are signs in
themselves of the Covenant between the Jewish People
and G-d.
 Tefillin consist of two leather boxes. Each box contains
strips of parchment inscribed with the four passages of
the Torah that mention the mitzvah (commandment) of
wearing tefillin. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 , Deuteronomy 11:1321, Exodus 13:1-10 and Exodus 13:11-16.
© Sharon Brien
 One of the leather boxes is worn on the head between the
eyes, resting on the cerebrum, to remind Jews to subject
their thoughts to G-d's service. The other box is worn on
the left arm so that it rests against the heart, and the
suspended leather strap is wound around the left hand
and around the middle finger of that hand. This to
remind Jews to subject their deeds to G-d's service and
to subject their hearts' desires to G-d's service.
© Sharon Brien
The Lord said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to
make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let
them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall be your fringe; look at
it and recall all the commandments of the Lord and observe them… Numbers 15:37-39
 Tzitzit (TZĒT-sēt)
These fringes or tassels attached to the corners
of the tallit are a reminder of the G-d’s 613
commandments. Each letter in the Hebrew
alphabet has a numerical value. The numerical
values of the 5 letters that comprise the Hebrew
word tzitzit add up to 600. Add the 8 strings and 5
knots of each tassel, and the total is 613. In
addition, each tzitzit should have a thread of blue
to represent the heavens.
 Tallit (tah-LĒT),
Prayer Shawl
Shawl-like garment worn by observant Jewish
men and some Jewish women over the clothes
during the weekday morning service, the Sabbath,
and other holidays. There are tzitzit attached to
the corners.
© Sharon Brien
"Rabbi" means "teacher" and, through preaching from the pulpit,
teaching classes, and individual counselling, teaching is the primary
duty of a rabbi. In addition, many rabbis serve as administrators of
their synagogues, represent the congregation to the community,
officiate at life-cycle events, and serve as Jewish legal decisions
(that is, they render decisions concerning Jewish legal matters that
come before them).
Traditionally, a Jewish prayer service is chanted. The leader is
called the shaliach tzibbur (the representative of the community)
who recites the prayers on behalf of the people. The chazzan
(cantor) is specially trained in the art of Jewish music and liturgy for
this role.
Often, a congregation hires a Jewish educator to run its religious
school program, and its adult education program as well.
Baal Koreh
The Baal Koreh is the Torah reader. Anyone who is at least 13
years old and possesses the skill to chant the Torah competently
may serve in this capacity. Some congregations engage a
professional Baal Koreh, and many others draw on their own
members to serve in this capacity.
© Sharon Brien
When the Torah is read you may well see two people standing on
either side of the reading table who assist the reader and make
sure that the Torah Service runs smoothly. These people are the
gabbaim. It is their job to call people to the Torah for their aliyot,
check that the reader makes no mistakes while reading the Torah,
and provide correction if a mistake is made, recites the Mi
Sheberach for those who have had an aliyah, and see to covering
and uncovering the Torah scroll at the appropriate times.
After the Torah has been read, the congregation will be asked to
stand and someone will lift the scroll above his/her head. This
person will then turn around so that the side of the scroll with the
writing faces the congregation, and turn as necessary to enable
everyone assembled to view the scroll, enabling them to peer into
the scroll that morning. It is traditional to show a minimum of three
columns of writing, including the portion read that morning. The
honour of lifting the Torah is called hagbah. The person honoured
with lifting the torah is referred to as the hagbahah.
After the congregation has had an opportunity to see the scroll, the
hagbahah sits in a chair on the bima and another person, comes
forward. The person honoured with gelilah ties the sash around the
scroll, places the mantle over the scroll, and puts on the breastplate
and crown
© Sharon Brien
 Judaism places a premium on community and is structured to
encourage people to gather together for prayer, study,
celebration, and even in grief to support those who mourn. In
order to hold a complete prayer service, a quorum of ten
adults (those who are 13 years or older) is required. The
quorum is called a minyan.
 People can pray by themselves, but collective worship is also
essential at regular intervals because it brings the community
together as a community. Judaism is not a religion of the
individual. It is more than a faith. It is a family-centred and
community-based culture and civilization. It fosters
interdependence and relationships with others.
© Sharon Brien
 When someone dies, the mourners are obligated to
recite a prayer called Kaddish each day for eleven
months. In order to recite the prayer, they need a minyan
(the quorum required for public prayer). The result is that
the community assembles in their home while they are in
mourning to enable the mourners to say Kaddish and
thereby are able to provide support and consolation.
Once the period of mourning is completed (7 days), then
the mourners need to come to the synagogue to join the
minyan there in order to say Kaddish. The result again is
that they cannot isolate themselves in their grief, but
must come back to the world and back to the community,
where they will be supported and nurtured as they work
through their grief.
 Jews need to come together to accomplish the manyfaceted aspects of worship: prayer, study, celebration.
All these things require the presence of other people; all
are enhanced by the presence of other people. Hence
collective worship is very important -- indeed essential -for Jews.
© Sharon Brien
Question time
© Sharon Brien
Describe the key features, roles and dress you would expect to find
in a synagogue?
How do these elements reflect the key aspects of Judaism?
Create a mind map of the information you have about the
synagogue and synagogue services so far.
Synagogue service
Structure of the ritual
Morning Service Shacharit 6.00 am
 Verse of Praise
 Shema – the declaration of the oneness of
G-d (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, Numbers
 Amidah - a prayer consisting of eighteen
 Kaddish is said
 Hallel – Psalms 113-118 are said on the
festivals of Passover, Sukkot and Hanukkah
 Torah reading
 Alenu – a prayer proclaiming the greatness
of G-d
© Sharon Brien
Synagogue Service
Structure of the ritual
Afternoon Service Minchah 6.00 pm
 Ashrei – reading from psalms
 Amidah - a prayer consisting of eighteen
 Kaddish is said
 Alenu – a prayer proclaiming the greatness
of G-d
Evening Service the Ma’ariv 6.15 pm
Recited directly after the Minhah
A minyan is required
 Shema
 Amidah - a prayer consisting of eighteen
 Alenu – a prayer proclaiming the greatness
of G-d
© Sharon Brien
There are multiple reasons for there being three daily
prayer services but the usual explanation is that each one
of the three was initiated by one of our patriarchs: Abraham
(Genesis 22:3 -- "Abraham arose early in the morning"),
Isaac (Genesis 24:63 -- "Isaac went out meditating in the
field toward evening"), and Jacob (Genesis 28:11 "He came
to that place and stopped there for the night"). In fact, the
prayer services are also substitutes for the sacrifices made
in the Temple in Jerusalem prior to its destruction in 69/70
C.E. The morning prayers (Shacharit) and afternoon
prayers (Minchah) correspond to the morning (Tamid
offering) and afternoon sacrifices (the second Tamid). The
evening service, Ma'ariv, is not associated with a sacrifice.
Rather, it derives from the obligation to say the Shema in
the evening (the prayer itself says "you shall recite these
words when you lie down at night and when you rise up in
the morning") hence the Shema is said in the evening and
morning, but not in the afternoon. There is also a tradition
that Daniel prayed thrice daily. There was a time in Jewish
history when Ma'ariv was an optional service; today, it is
often appended to the Minchah service.
© Sharon Brien
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our G-d,
the Lord is One”
(Deuteronomy 6:4)
© Sharon Brien
One of the most important of all Jewish prayers is called the Shema.
The Shema affirms belief and trust in the One G-d. It is repeated by
observant Jews twice a day. It is the prayer Jews recite as their last
words before death. Its main content is loving the one and only G-d
with all one’s heart, soul and might. The first part of the Shema
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9) is as follows:
Sh'ma Yis'ra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.
Barukh sheim k'vod malkhuto l'olam va'ed.
Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.
You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your might. And these words, which I [G-d] teach you this
day, shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your
children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk
by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall
bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder
before your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your
house and upon your gates.
© Sharon Brien
In just this one paragraph of the Shema, it
is possible to understand why Jews
designed the tefillin (phylacteries) to place
as symbols on the head (above the eyes)
and on the arm; and why most Jews place
a mezzuzah on the doorpost of their
houses to remind them of G-d.
© Sharon Brien
 The Kaddish is a prayer that praises G-d and expresses a
yearning for the establishment of G-d's kingdom on
earth. Originally recited by rabbis when they had finished
giving their sermons (the Rabbi’s Kaddish), in time the
prayer was modified and became associated with
mourning. The prayer itself does not actually mention
 The word Kaddish means sanctification, and the prayer is
a sanctification of G-d's name.
 The emotional reactions inspired by the Kaddish come
from the fact that it is recited at funerals and by
mourners. Jewish tradition requires that Kaddish be
recited during the first eleven months following the death
of a loved one and thereafter on each anniversary of the
death, called the Yahrtzeit (YÄR-tsīt).
The first lines of the Kaddish are:
Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba, b'allmaw dee v'raw chir'utei.
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified, in the world
that He created as He willed.
© Sharon Brien
Question time
. Describe some key features of a synagogue service
© Sharon Brien
Impact on the Individual
and the Community
© Sharon Brien
 Proving identity for the individual and
the community
 Guidance for the application of Jewish
teaching for everyday life
 Connects the present moment to the
historical tradition
 Makes present the Covenant and its
 Confirms the duties of relationships
among the members of the community
 In orthodox communities it defines
gender roles
 The Minyan expresses the communal
nature of Judaism
Question time
Read the table on the previous slide, Use this and the other
information in the powerpoint as the basis to create your own table
indicating the importance of synagogue services for the individual and
the community.
2 Analyse the importance of synagogue services for the individual
and the community.
© Sharon Brien
 A significant part of the celebration of
Shabbat is the participation in Sabbath
© Sharon Brien
6.15 pm Friday
6.30 pm Friday
Kabbalat Shabbat – includes Ma’ariv
9.00 am Saturday
11.00 am or 2.00 pm
Musaf – extra Sabbath or Festival
100 minutes before sunset Halachic shiur – study of Rabbinic Law,
customs and traditions
60 minutes before sunset
Minchah and Seudah Shishit
Post sunset
Ma’ariv and Motze – special Sabbath
© Sharon Brien
Jewish High Holy Days
Rosh ha Shanah
 Rosh HaShanah literally means ‘Head of the Year’ in
Hebrew. It is the beginning of ten days of earnest reflection
and prayers when we repent the sins we have committed in
the past year and pledge to do better in the year to
come. The spirit of this day is therefore solemn, and we
spend much of the day in prayer.
 Rosh HaShanah is observed on the 1st and 2nd days of
Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the Jewish year.
Tradition holds that one day is not enough for all the
searching of the heart that is called for.
 Rosh HaShanah is also considered to be the birthday of the
world, the birthday of Adam (the first man), the day on which
Sarah first learned that she would have Isaac, and the day
Isaac was born. It is also the day on which Hannah learned
that she would have a child.
© Sharon Brien
Rosh ha Shanah
The sacred atmosphere of the High Holydays builds up throughout the preceding
month. Well before Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, one is already in the mood
for their solemnity and introspection. Greetings during this period include k’tivah
vachatimah tovah – “Be written and sealed (in G-d’s Book) for good”. Care is
taken to perform good deeds and not to sin. In some communities the Solemn
Days were prepared for by a ta’anit dibbur, a fast from speech; since the most
common sins are committed with the tongue, one refrained as much as possible
from talk of all kinds.
The shofar is blown every weekday morning and in some places every evening
also, as a reminder that when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to ask Divine
forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf, the shofar was sounded in the Israelite
camp to warn them not to sin (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 581).
S’lichot, penitential prayers, are said on weekdays during the last part of the
month to attune us to the thoughts, feelings and melodies of the coming days.
Everybody, not just the chazzan, should spend time looking at the Holyday
prayers, though when a certain chazzan told a sage he was going through the
prayers he was asked, “But are the prayers going through you?” The name of the
month of Ellul is said to be the initial letters of Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li, “I am my
Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3), which suggests that our
reconciliation with G-d should begin long before Rosh HaShanah.
The customary blessing of the new month (Bir’kat HaChodesh) is omitted on the
Shabbat before Tishri, because it is unthinkable that anyone is unaware of the
approach of Rosh HaShanah (some add that it is also to confuse Satan, the
symbolic accuser, and prevent him from interfering with our re-union with G-d).
© Sharon Brien
Jewish High Holy Days
Yom Kippur
 Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year.
Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from
work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur
occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. The holiday is instituted at Leviticus
 The name “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement,” and that pretty much
explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to
atone for the sins of the past year.
 Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against
another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first
seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed
against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur.
 Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that
day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and
drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast
beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending
after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies
additional restrictions that are less well-known: washing and bathing,
anointing one's body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather
© Sharon Brien
 As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to
life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and
women in childbirth (from the time labour begins until three days
after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older
children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth
are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel
the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a
physician and a rabbi for advice.
 Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In Orthodox
synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM) and
continue until about 3 PM. People then usually go home for an
afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and
evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at
nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the
 It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity
and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white
as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in
which the dead are buried.
Kapparot In some communities, sins are symbolically transferred by means of a
ceremony involving waving a chicken or a sum of money over one’s head whilst
reciting a Hebrew prayer, after which the proceeds are given to charity.
Opponents of the ceremony, which derives from the 9th century, criticise it on
aesthetic, ethical and spiritual grounds, preferring the more conventional
expressions of penitence, prayer and charity.
Those who oppose it recognise that it may contain a hint of the scapegoat ritual
in the Temple but argue that the best way to rid oneself of sins is genuine
repentance. Giving money fulfils the tradition of charity and symbolises the
determination that any sins we may have committed will now be replaced by
good deeds for the benefit of other people.
Early in the afternoon, the Minchah service is recited including the viddui
(Confession of Sins – see below), leaving time in the rest of the afternoon to
prepare for the fast and to get to the synagogue without rushing.
S’udah Mafseket
The pre-fast meal is full enough for sustenance but light enough to digest easily.
It is helpful to take as much fluid as possible before the fast to help prevent
dehydration during the day.
The children are blessed by their parents and the yom-tov candles are lit, as well
as a Yahrzeit memorial candle.
© Sharon Brien
 Footwear & clothing
As leather shoes are not worn on Yom Kippur, non-leather footwear
is put on before the fast. white is the dominant colour in the
synagogue on the High Holydays. On Yom Kippur, not only the
officiants but often many members of the congregation wear white
garments. Males are commonly clad in the kittel, which, though
reminiscent of shrouds, symbolises purity and spiritual cleanliness.
 Fasting
The day is marked by a complete fast from sunset on Erev Yom
Kippur until nightfall the following day. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of
Berditchev said that there was a case for abolishing all the fasts
except Tishah B’Av and Yom Kippur: “On Tishah B’Av” he said,
“Who can eat? And on Yom Kippur, who needs to eat?” Apart from
abstaining from food and drink, and not wearing leather shoes, other
“afflictions” (Lev. 23:27) on Yom Kippur include abstaining from
bathing, anointing oneself and marital relations (Mishnah Yoma, ch.
 A secondary meaning of v’initem et nafshotechem, “you shall afflict
your souls”, may be derived from the use of the same verb in Deut.
26:5, v’anita, “you shall declare” or even “you shall sing”. Hence
Yom Kippur with all its physical deprivations is spiritually releasing
and a time to let our souls sing at our at-one-ment with G-d.
© Sharon Brien
House of
Beit HaTefillah
House of
Beit HaMidrash
© Sharon Brien
House of
Beit HaKnesset
House of Gathering
 Beit HaKnesset is the
 It is a place for the
Jewish community to
come together for all
types of meetings,
celebrations and
other community
© Sharon Brien
 The Synagogue also serves as a social and cultural centre
with a fellowship hall or auditorium and kitchen and
sometimes also a more formal ballroom and catering
service for such events as Bar Mitzvah and marriage
 The synagogue often functions as a sort of town hall
where matters of importance to the community can be
 Brotherhood and Sisterhood organisations often sponsor
cultural programs, charitable projects, and other special
 Havorot: small, intimate fellowship groups gather based
on mutual interest (study groups, leisure activities, family
oriented groups, etc.)
 In addition, the synagogue functions as a social welfare
agency, collecting and dispensing money and other items
for the aid of the poor and needy within the community.
 Each synagogue is an independent democratic
community. The members choose and pay their own
Rabbi and other staff members and make their own
administrative decisions
© Sharon Brien
Meeting Rooms
 The proper Hebrew term for a synagogue is a Beit
Knesset which means "House of Meeting." It is an apt
description of a synagogue, which is far more than a
House of Prayer, or a House of Study. While study and
prayer are important and crucial components of the life
of the community, there are many reasons for Jews to
gather, and the synagogue is the central gathering place
for the community. When there is an issue of importance
to discuss, a social action program to plan or launch, or
organisational meetings to be held, the synagogue is the
natural place for these to take place. When there is a
simchah (happy event) to celebrate, or reason to mourn,
people will often gather in the synagogue. The
synagogue is the hub of Jewish life.
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
House of Learning
 Beit HaMidrash is the Hebrew.
 It is where Jews come to learn the Jewish language of
Hebrew and to learn about Judaism.
 In most synagogues, children and adults can take
classes in Hebrew, study important Jewish religious
books and learn all about Judaism.
© Sharon Brien
 Synagogues also contains classrooms and a library
for educational programs: religious ("Sunday")
school and Hebrew classes for children from
preschool through high school age, usually also
adult education classes and/or seminars; Orthodox
have Hebrew day (parochial) schools (Yeshivas)
 Contrary to popular belief, Jewish education does
not end at the age of bar mitzvah. For the observant
Jew, the study of sacred texts is a life-long task.
Thus, a synagogue normally has a well-stocked
library of sacred Jewish texts for members of the
community to study. It is also the place where
children receive their basic religious education.
© Sharon Brien
 A school for children is an essential feature of any synagogue
community, for the Torah makes clear that love and loyalty to G-d
involves passing the tradition along to the next generations: "You shall
love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, all your soul, and all your
being. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon
your heart. You shall teach them to your children and speak of them
when you are at home and away from home, [from the time] you arise in
the morning [until] you lay down at night..." [Deuteronomy, chapter 6]
Jews have always approached the task of educating children in the
traditions of Torah with the utmost seriousness and have always highly
prized education of all kinds. The ability to think is a gift from G-d, and
using that gift is a sacred responsibility. Children are educated from the
time they are very young to read Hebrew, understand Torah, and absorb
the many other aspects of Jewish tradition. There is a long-held tradition
that when young children begin their formal religious education, their
teacher puts honey on their schoolbook, which they lick off. This practice
conveys to young children the sweetness of learning, which the book
offers them. Most synagogues sponsor after-school and Sunday classes
for children. In some communities children may attend all-day programs
which incorporate both Jewish studies and secular studies. In recent
years, many innovative school programs have begun to include parents
in the educational process and have developed family-oriented education
programs because a great many parents feel the need to learn along with
their children. Torah study is for every Jew, from birth and throughout life.
Among the milestones of Jewish study are reaching bar/bat mitzvah
(when the youngster is considered an adult in the eyes of the community)
© Sharon Brien
 For Jews, study of Torah is a form of worship, as
important as prayer. Pirke Avot, a tractate of the
Babylonian Talmud, teaches, "The world depends upon
three things: Upon Torah study, upon worship, and upon
acts of loving kindness." For Jews, these are the three
modes of serving G-d: study, prayer, deeds of kindness.
Study is considered especially important, even more
important than performing mitzvot (commandments)
because study leads to the performance of mitzvot.
 According to tradition, the proper way to study is with a
partner because the relationship formed enhances the
learning for both people. When two study together, they
are more likely to increase their learning, because
together they generate more ideas and discussion,
questioning and challenging one another, and extending
the range of their inquiry through their interaction. What
is more, two who study together are more likely to study,
because being dependent upon one another, they
cannot decide that something "more urgent" has come
up and put off study.
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
House of Prayer
 In Hebrew Beit
 It is where Jews come
to worship G-d.
 Jews also worship at
home but worshipping
with others is an
important part of
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
When Israel gathers to pray, they do not pray
together as one, but each and every
synagogue prays by itself: first this
synagogue and then the next one. And when
all the congregations have finished all their
prayers, the angel responsible for prayer
takes all the prayers from all the synagogues
and makes of them crowns to place upon the
head of the Holy One, Blessed be G-d.
[Midrash Shemot Rabbah, Parashat Beshallach]
© Sharon Brien
Question time
. Evaluate the significance of the synagogue for the Jewish
© Sharon Brien
© Sharon Brien
 Men and women
are seated
 Men and women
sit together
 Men and women
sit together
 Use Hebrew in
 Usually use
 Use vernacular in
Hebrew in services services with
increasing use of
 Leader of the
service has his
back to the
 Leader faces the
Minyan is strictly
ten men
© Sharon Brien
 Leader faces the
Flexibility about
what constitutes
the minyan
Question time
. Outline the key similarities and differences between Orthodox,
conservative and progressive synagogues.
© Sharon Brien
Question time
1. Watch the following clips and summmarise the information
2 Watch the following clip of the largest synagogue in the world which is in Jerusalem.
Because the commentary is in Hebrew you will not be able to understand the voice over.
Nevertheless make some observations about the insights this clip offers.
3 Work through the powerpoint carefully listing the words highlighted in a different colour.
Write brief definitions for these terms.
4 You will need to think back to the Preliminary course. (check the first slide) How do
synagogue services emphasise the principle teachings of Judaism?
© Sharon Brien
Reference List
Bulmer, P. & Doret, K 2008 Excel HSC Studies of Relgion I & II Pascal Press Glebe
Clark, H. 2010 Dot Point HSC Studies of Relgion Science Press Marrickville
Clark, H. 2009 Spotlight Studies of Religion HSC Science Press Marrickville
Devine K 2008 Studies of Religion 2 Unit Preliminary and HSC Devine Educational
Consultancy Service
Hartney C & Noble J 2007 Cambridge Studies of Religion Stage 6 Cambridge
University Press Melbourne 2008
Hayward, P. Buchanan, J.Gerner, K. & Cheek J 2007 Macquarie Revision Guides
HSC Studeis of Religion Macmillan Edition South Yarra
Hollis, S, 2006 Teacher’s Friend: Studies of Religion HSC Stage 6 Syllabus NSW
King, R, Smith, H. Pattel-Gray A, Mooney, J Hohns A, Hollis, S, Carnegie E.,Johns D
McQueen K 2009 Oxford Studies of Religion Preliminary and HSC Course Oxford
University Press Melbourne
.Morrissey, Mudge, Taylor, Bailey & Rule 2010 Living Religion Fourth Edition Pearson
Education Australia, Melbourne
OLMC Notes 2006
Smith, H: Mooney, J.:King, R. & Carnegie, E. 2007 The Leading Edge HSC Studies
of Religion Study Guide 1 Unit and 2 Unit Harcourt Education Melbourne
© Sharon Brien