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is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...
which is intended to serve the place where the person reading aloud from the Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...
stands during the Torah reading service
Torah reading is a Jewish religious ritual that involves the public reading of a set of passages from a Torah scroll. The term often refers to the entire ceremony of removing the Torah scroll from the ark, chanting the appropriate excerpt with special cantillation, and returning the scroll to...
. The bimah
is sometimes misdescribed as an altar
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship...
A tower is a tall structure, usually taller than it is wide, often by a significant margin. Towers are distinguished from masts by their lack of guy-wires....
. The bimah
was located in the centre of the synagogue most likely just as the temporary wooden bimah
(this is the origin of the term) was central to the "women's courtyard" of the Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...
during the Hakhel
The term Hakhel refers to a custom based on the mandated practice in the Hebrew Bible of assembling all Jewish men, women and children to hear the reading of the Torah by the king of Israel once every seven years....
ceremony. While the original meaning of the word referred to the platform, the table from which the Torah scroll is read can also be referred to as the bimah, even when it is not on a platform. This later became a sign of the Orthodox
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...
synagogue in the mid-nineteenth century. The Reform
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...
(Neolog) temples moved the bimah
to the front of the temple facing the congregation. One of the well-known decrees of the Chatam Sofer was that the bimah
must remain in the centre of an Orthodox synagogue.
is typically elevated by two or three steps, as was the bimah
in the Temple. At the celebration of the Shavuot
The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....
holiday when synagogues are decorated with flowers, many synagogues have special arches that they place over the bimah
and adorn with floral displays. The importance of the bimah
is to show that the reader is the most important at that moment in time, and to make it easier to hear their reader of the Torah. A raised bimah will typically have a railing. This was a religious requirement for safety in bimah more than 10 handbreadths high (somewhere between 83 and 127 centimeters). A lower bimah (even one step) will typically have a railing as a practical measure to prevent someone from inadvertently stepping off.