Raised area at the front of the sanctuary
Aron Hakodesh (Holy Ark)
Contains the Torah scrolls
Ner Tamid (Eternal Light)
Lamp above the Ark;
perpetually on as a reminder of God’s presence
The Torah is the holiest ritual object in Jewish tradition. It is a two-spindled parchment scroll, handwritten by a sofer (scribe) in Hebrew. The words in the Torah are completely in Hebrew without vowels, punctuation, or cantillation marks, which makes it very challenging to learn.
The word Torah means “teaching” or “direction”. The Torah consists of the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), which recount the history, laws, culture, and ethics of the Jewish people. It is our sacred text that has remained largely unchanged for more than one thousand years. The Torah is divided into weekly portions, which are read in the same order in every traditional synagogue in the world. The Torah portion for the day is read in seven parts on Shabbat.
The shulchan, the table used to hold the Torah during services, was created by a congregant. The three levels of the tabletop are made from a single slab of white oak. The design for the side wings the gabbaim use is based on the stained glass window behind it of Jeremiah’s vision of Jerusalem. Embedded in the top of the table are the words Etz Chayim, “Tree of Life”, referring to the Torah. To honor the connection to nature, only wood was used in the joints and construction, and the table was purposefully finished in a light tone. The phrase Torah tzivah lanu Moshe morasha kehilat Yaakov, “The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Jacob,” Deuteronomy 33:4, is engraved on the front panel.
Sha’are Shalom is a Conservative congregation that observes traditional customs. Shabbat is a special day within our community, designed for rest, reflection and prayer.
Our congregation does not permit the use of cell phones, cameras, video recorders, or any other electronic devices in the building on Fridays and Saturdays (Shabbat - the Sabbath) and Holy Days. We ask these devices be placed in the silent mode or off position while in the building. We understand that it can be uncomfortable to be disconnected, and we thank you for your understanding and respect of these customs. We also ask that you refrain from smoking on synagogue premises, as it is forbidden during Shabbat.
It is customary for all males to wear a kippah (head covering) while in the synagogue. Special kippot for specific events, such as a bar or bat mitzvah, may be available at the entrance for you to use and keep. Wearing a kippah is not a symbol of religious identification, but rather an act of respect, as a symbolic gesture of the separation between man and God. Women may wear a head covering if they choose, however a head covering is required for all women who will be participating in services on the bimah (the raised platform at the front of the sanctuary).
Jewish men (and women if they wish) wear a prayer shawl during Saturday morning services. The fringes and knots on the tallit represent the 613 commandments of the Torah.