Synagogue - Judaism - what is a synagogue?
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Synagogue

Western Wall
The Western Wall, which is
all that remains of the foundations
of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

Synagogue in Greek means a place for coming together, a meeting place, and that is what a synagogue (SIN-ah-gog) is. It is a building where Jews come together and pray to their God. In this way it is a lot like a Christian church. The most important difference is that there is no altar in a synagogue.

There is no altar because for Jews there was only one place where you could sacrifice to God, and that was in the big temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. When that temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, it was rebuilt under the Persians, and used until the time of the First Jewish Revolt. When Titus crushed the First Jewish Revolt in the 70s AD, he destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. Since that time, the Jews have not offered any sacrifices to their God.

Capernaum
Early synagogue at Capernaum, Israel

The earliest synagogues were probably just the living rooms or courtyards of people's houses. Later on people began to build special places just to meet.

Dura Europos

One of the earliest well-preserved synagogues was dug up in the Roman town of Dura Europos in Syria, from around 200 AD. It had beautiful frescoes showing the story of Esther.

Cordoba synagogue

Many beautiful synagogues were built in the Islamic Empire. This is a picture of a very fancy one from Cordoba in southern Spain.

What people do in a synagogue is say prayers in Hebrew. Here is a video of a boy saying the prayers for the first time as a man, at his bar mitzvah.

Rabbis
Main Judaism page
Mosques
Cathedrals
Indian temples
Chinese pagodas
Main religion page

Bibliography and further reading about synagogues:


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 19 September, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT