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What To Expect At A Synagogue - Video

July 21, 2011

Going to synagogue for the first time can sometimes be a daunting experience. The architecture may be unfamiliar, the ritual items foreign and words are used in languages other than English.

Knowing what to expect, in advance of your first visit, will help you feel more comfortable in this space.

To that end, we have created a new video, What To Expect At A Synagogue, that takes us inside the building and into the sanctuary. Guided by Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman of Kehillath Israel, a Conservative synagogue in Brookline, Massachusetts, we are introduced to the items we might find in the lobby, or just outside the sanctuary; we are taken into the sanctuary for an overview of the features in the space; and we are even given an up close look at items used during services, such as prayer books and a Torah scroll. As we move through, words and concepts are translated into English and explained.

While not every synagogue is identical — the layout of the sanctuary might differ, each denomination uses different prayer books — this introductory video will give you a better idea of what to expect, regardless of which synagogue you choose to visit.

The video is a nice supplement to our booklet, Shabbat: What To Expect At A Synagogue.

Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.
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