This morning Year 2 visited the UHC Jewish synagogue in Gosforth as part of their RE topic Judaism.
We were greeted by a lovely lady called Deanna who taught us lots about the Jewish synagogue and Jewish faith. Jewish people pray on Saturday every week. The Rabbi of the Gosforth synagogue is called Rabbi Aaron. Rabbi Aaron stands in the Bimar during prayer time and reads from the Torah. The Torah scroll stands on the desk in the Bimar and it is written in Hebrew. We learnt that there is a Mezuzah on the side of each door which has a small prayer inside. If you are Jewish you will have one of these on every door in your home except for the bathroom. It is a prayer to symbolise faith. The windows in a synagogue reflect festivals so they don’t have pictures of people on them like the inside of a Christian church.
Men and women sit seperately in a Jewish synagogue. Women who are married sit upstairs and men sit downstairs. Every man wears a prayer shawl in the synagogue to show that we are all equal in God’s eyes. This is called a Tallit. They touch it, kiss it and then touch the Torah scroll with it. The Torah and the Yad is placed onto the Rabbi’s shoulder. Men also wear a special cap which is known as a Kippah. If women are married they wear a hat to cover their head too.
In the synagogue there is a special place where all of the real Torahs are kept. This is called the Ark. When the curtain is pulled back there are 5 Torahs inside. Inside of each Torah are 5 books. There are no sentences or paragraphs inside of the Torah. If they make a mistake when writing the Torah with God’s name they must take this out and eventually it will be buried. The Jewish synagogue is currently on book number 4. A curtain covers the front of the Ark which is decorated with a picture of a tree of life which symbolises what Jewish people live by. Above the Ark is Hebrew writing which says in English ‘remember where you are’ which means we need to be respectful inside of the synagogue. There are lights above the Ark that are eternal, which means that the lights never go out.
We also found out that the current Jewish year is 5778. We looked at a special book called Art Scroll Children’s Siddur. It is very different to Christian books because you need to open the book from left to right. We learnt that Abraham was the first person to realise that we have a God that we can’t see. The Rabbi reads the story of Abraham and blows a special instrument called a Shofar 100 times.
At the end of of our trip we were lucky enough to use Hebrew stencils to draw symbols and take them home. Deanna also gave us the name of a song to learn called ‘Shalom Chaverim’. We are very excited to learn this song because we all love to sing!