Describe Synagogue services
Demonstrate how synagogue services express the beliefs of Judaism
Analyse the significance of synagogue services for both the
individual and the Jewish community
Adult males (and boys who have made their Bar Mitzvah)
are required to attend the synagogue regularly. It is up to
the person to fulfil this requirement as well as they can.
Women do attend synagogue services but this is not a
religious requirement for women, whose primary
responsibility is recognised as running a good Jewish home.
Synagogues services are held every day, with some
differences in the services. Sabbath day services are
important. There are three services held each day.
Jews also attend synagogue services on High Holy Days,
festivals and fasting times, weddings, funerals, Bar and Bat
Jews also attend educational and social events at the
The word ‘synagogue’ is a Greek translation of
the Hebrew ‘Beit Knesset’ meaning ‘House of
This term highlights the Jewish belief that their
religion is a communal religion. This sense of
the communal nature of the religion is linked to
Jews understanding of themselves as the
people of God, bound to Him by the Covenant.
The synagogue is the social, intellectual and
spiritual centre of the life of the Jewish
All synagogues have services three times a day.Shacharit in the
morning, Minchah in the afternoon and Ma’ariv in the evening.
There is an additional service – the Musaf – after the morning
service on the Sabbath and on fasts and festivals and on Monday
and Thursday morning.
Jewish prayers are usually recited in Hebrew. In Progressive
services, much of the language used, is the language of the
country of the people, for example English in Australia.
Members of the congregation use a book called a siddur to follow
the order of the service.
Men wear a fringed prayer shawl at morning services in
obedience to the Biblical commandment to remind themselves of
the Divine.
Reform services follow the same structure as Orthodox services
but shorter and with some changes in content.
The service begins and ends with the singing of
Hebrew poetry rejoicing in the attributes of
God. This affirms and celebrates Jewish beliefs
about God.
Services include several Blessings in praise of
God throughout the service.
Psalms are recited or sung.
A central point of the service is the recitation of
the Shema (Hear)
This belief is expressed in the
recitation of the Shema, a
central feature of every
synagogue service.
 “Hear O Israel, The Lord our
God. The Lord is One.
Blessed be his name, whose
glorious kingdom is for ever
and ever. And you shall love
the Lord your God with all
your heart and with all your
soul and with all your
Deut. 6:4-9
God is One
is pure spirit
•All powerful
•Merciful and Just
The Amidah
 a prayer which praises God as all powerful
and merciful. This is a silent standing prayer
also known as the ‘Eighteen Blessings.’ After
the personal recitation, the Amidah is repeated
as a chant by the reader and then the
congregation repeat , “Holy, holy, holy is the
Lord of hosts: the whole world is full of His
Jews believe that the Torah is the word of God,
given to them as a source of inspiration,
reflection and moral guidance.
The Torah is read in the synagogue Sabbath
morning service and the reading is performed
with great ceremony which highlights Jewish
belief in the central importance of the Torah.
The Torah is also read at the morning service at
synagogue on Monday and Thursday.
The Torah scrolls are housed in the Ark which stands at the
Jerusalem end of the synagogue. The members of the
congregation are able to see the Ark. Above the Ark are the
words “Know before Whom you Stand.”
These words reflect the belief that God is experienced in the
words of the Torah.
In front of the Ark hangs an eternal light, in memory of the
eternal light in the Temple.
The central location and architectural significance given to
the Ark, reflects the belief that God gave the Torah to Moses
and that the Torah was housed in the Ark of the Covenant
in the temple in Jerusalem. This symbolic positioning of the
Torah scrolls reminds Jews of their history and their
continuation in this Covenant with God.
The reading from Torah is an essential element of
the Sabbath morning service. The Torah scrolls are
taken from the Ark and paraded before the
congregation in a procession around the
synagogue. Members of the congregation will
touch or kiss the Torah as a mark of respect and
veneration, highlighting the belief in the
importance of the Torah.
The congregation stand during this procession. In
Orthodox synagogues where women are seated
separately, they will stretch out their hand towards
the Torah and kiss their hand.
The scroll will be taken to the Bimah and the reading
will take place, with the reader facing the Ark.
 The Torah scrolls are then returned ceremoniously
to the Ark, accompanied by another psalm.
 There will be a reading from the Prophets. Thiis is
known as Haftarah.
silent standing prayer of praise for God at the end
of every service.
There is usually a sermon at this time. This will
be a commentary drawing moral lessons from
the Torah or Haftarah reading.
The Amidah is repeated with appropriate
additions for the day.
The Kaddish prayer is read, recalling the rituals
of the Temple.
Hymns celebrating God.
After the Sabbath service the Kiddush blessing
over wine is held in the synagogue hall.
The ‘Days of Awe’ - The ten High Holy Days of
Rosh Hashanah leading to Yom Kippur is an
important time in the synagogue. The shofar is
blown to mark the beginning of the liturgical
period, when Jews reflect on themes of
judgement and repentance.
One of the most memorable prayers is recited
at this time ‘Avinu Malkynu’ “Our Father, our
King” this shows Jewish belief about the power
and mercy of God.
Yom Kippur services run throughout most of the
day in the synagogue, beginning with the morning
service, Shacharit and ending with Ne’ilah
referring to the symbolic closing of heaven’s gates
and the ‘book of life.’
The Havdalah ceremony ends this holiday.
Rabbis and cantors wear white on Yom Kippur to
symbolise purity and the belief that God shall
make sins as white as snow.
The communal confession of the congregation– the
Vidui – emphasises Jewish belief in communal
responsibility for sins.
Judaism is a religion which emphasises living
out belief in God rather than focusing on the
‘articles of faith’. Nevertheless there are clear
links between what takes place in synagogue
services and beliefs in Judaism.
Belief in One God who made the universe and
is all powerful.
This is reflected in the many beautiful prayers,
Blessings and psalms found in synagogue
services. The Shema is a key example of how
prayers demonstrate belief in God.
The Torah is the word of God and provides spiritual
inspiration as well as ethical guidelines for ‘living
Judaism.’ Living by these commandments enacts the
continuing Covenant between God and the Jewish
This belief is seen in the central importance given to the
Torah scrolls in the internal design of the synagogue
and the procession and reading from the Torah in the
Sabbath, Monday and Thursday services. Men who
attend synagogue services wear prayer shawl as
instructed by the commandment in the Torah to
remind themselves of the Divine by wearing fringes at
the corner of their garments.
The spiritual and historical importance of
Jerusalem and Israel.
This is seen in the placement of the Ark
containing the Torah scrolls in the direction of
Jerusalem. Jews recall the Covenant with God,
the Temple and the original Ark of the
Covenant which was there.