Personal Lifestyle, The Synagogue and Worship

Personal Lifestyle, The Synagogue and Worship

Dietary laws

religious studiesLike Muslims, observant Jews do not eat pork, but they also have a longer list of creatures considered unclean and not fit for consumption. Jews are only to eat Kosher food. The laws surrounding the preparation of Kosher food are quite complex but include rules about dairy products, ritual slaughter and eggs. Forbidden food is called Trefah.


The Tallit is a special shawl worn by Jews when they pray and sometimes at ceremonial occasions such as weddings and funerals.

Tefillin, or Phylacteries are small square leather boxes on straps. They have pieces of parchment with verses from the Torah inside them and some Orthodox Jews wear them during prayers. Tefillin can be worn on the arm and the head.

All Orthodox Jewish men wear a small skull cap called a kippah or yarmulke, as do some, but not all, Reformist Jews. Orthodox women cover their heads with a scarf or hat.


Mezuzah are small wooden containers with certain verses from the Torah inside. They are attached to the doorposts in Orthodox Jewish homes.


The Synagogue and Worship

Jews call their place of worship a synagogue and sometimes a temple. Synagogues are often places of education and community centres as well as places of worship.

religious studiesA Rabbi or a Chazzan (also called a Cantor) leads the Jewish religious service. In Orthodox synagogues, worship is in Hebrew. In Progressive synagogues other languages including English may be used.

Men and women are separated in Orthodox synagogues but not in Progressive ones.

The interior of a synagogue has various important features connected with worship:

The Bimah is a kind of pulpit.

The Aron Hakodesh is the Holy Ark, a wooden cabinet containing the scrolls of the Torah, which are produced during services and paraded around the synagogue.

The Ner Tamid is an ever-burning light hung above the Aron Hakodesh and representing ever present God.

The Menorah is a seven-branched lamp representing enlightenment. It has strong associations with Hanukkah.