Here is a 360 view of our synagogue, see below explanations for details of the key elements:
A Synagogue is a place of Jewish worship. In addition to housing a sanctuary for services, synagogues serve as the centre-point of Jewish life.
The Aron Kodesh (“holy ark”), where the Torah Scrolls are kept, is situated in the front of the synagogue. It is the holiest place in the synagogue.
The ark is opened only during special prayers and when removing the Torah to read during prayer services. It is customary to stand when the ark is opened.
3. Torah Scrolls
The Torah scroll is a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses, hand-written by a pious scribe in the original Hebrew. It is rolled up around two ornate wooden shafts, attached to either end of the scroll.
Kept in the Ark, the Torah scroll is routinely read aloud in all synagogues, and in its presence, we offer prayers and blessings for all those in need. We read from the Torah scroll four times a week, on Shabbat morning, Shabbat afternoon, and Monday and Thursday mornings.
Additionally, the Torah is read on many Jewish festivals, the first day(s) of the new Hebrew month and fast days. There are 5 Torahs in this ark all of which are identical. On some festival days, we read from more than one.
4. Lettering over Ark
This decoration is a quote from the story of Jacob's dream in Genesis It translates as “This is not just the House of G-d, but also the gateway to Heaven”
5. Eternal Light
Right above the Holy Ark is the “ner tamid” or eternal light. Its name is derived from a verse in Exodus where we read that an eternal flame was to burn on the golden menorah in the Holy Temple at all times. In days gone by, the ner tamid was an actual flame but this is now replaced by an LED which is left on at all times.
6. Prayer for Royal Family
It is customary for Jews to pray for the welfare of the ruler of whatever kingdom they live in, recognising that while we may have our own separate religious traditions – such as festivals and food laws – this does not preclude us from participating in life around us. This prayer is recited in English during the morning service every week on Shabbat as well as on festival days.
7. Prayer for the State of Israel
The Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel is a prayer said during the morning service on Shabbat and Jewish holy days. The prayer requests divine providence for the State of Israel and its leaders, and that the exiled Jewish people be gathered into the Land of Israel.
8. Ten Commandments:
These two tablets represent the tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai and depict the first two words of each of the ten commandments.
9. Holocaust Memorial
This is a later addition to the synagogue and was donated by Dr & Mrs Dub, themselves refugees from the holocaust in Europe.
10. Sign Board Showing Weekly Portion
This board shows the weekly portion to be read on Shabbat along with any other special prayers to be recited during the service.
11. Hebrew Clock
Like some other languages, Hebrew uses letters to represent numbers. The first 10 letters of the alphabet are used to represent the numbers 1-10. Letters are combined to form larger numbers. On the clock, you can see the letters representing 10 and 2 are combined to make the number 12 for instance.
The Hebrew word bimah means “platform” and refers to the platform in the centre of the synagogue from which the Torah is read. It also refers to the reading table. The bimah is situated so that the reader faces toward the front of the synagogue.
The table is draped with a cloth covering to give honour to the Torah that will be read on it. Like a drafting table, the surface of the bimah is slightly slanted, making for easy reading of the Torah scroll. In addition to being the place from which the Torah is read, it is also the spot where the Rabbi stands when leading all other prayers.
A mezuzah is parchment scroll, on which the Shema prayer is handwritten by an expert scribe. A mezuzah mounted on the right side of the doorpost designates the home or building as Jewish, reminding us of G-d and our heritage. It is also a symbol of G-d's watchful care over the home or building. The placing of a mezuzah on the doors of a home or office protects the inhabitants, whether they are inside or outside.
14. Ladies Gallery
In an orthodox synagogue, men and women pray separately. This gallery is the ladies’ section of this synagogue.
15. Star of David
The Star of David has no religious significance and is used for decoration. It is interesting to note that a representation of the Leicester emblem, the Cinquefoil, is embedded in this decoration and it is believed that Sir Israel Hart, Mayor of the City and President of the Jewish Community at the time the synagogue was built, wanted to show his loyalty to both organisations.
This is the 8-branch candelabra (with an extra branch used to light the other 8 branches) used during the celebration of the festival of Chanukah.
This is the place that the Rabbi gives his sermons from.
18. Stained Glass Window
This decorative window shows the ten commandments as well as the Harp of David.
The Jewish Year
The Jewish calendar was fixed 1700 years ago by Rabbi Hil-lel. It is based on lunar months. Each month begins with the new moon, and the first day of the month is called Rosh Chodesh, which means ‘head of the month’.
The fifteenth night of the month is the full moon. It takes twenty-nine and a half days for the moon to become a new moon once again. So, every month is made up of either 29 or 30 days. This means that the year is 354 days long but the solar year that is used in the UK is 365 days long, eleven days longer than the lunar year.
Is it a problem is we lose eleven days every year? If we only used the lunar year, then the Festivals would get earlier and earlier. Eventually, they would fall in different seasons, we know that this cannot happen because the Torah says that Pesach al-ways has to be in the Spring.
How do we make sure that Pesach is always in the Spring? In the Jewish calendar, we have a leap year that provides an extra month every two or three years. This makes up for the eleven lost days each year.
We are happy to answer any further enquiries you have about our synagogue.