The Sanctuary

A meditative space for prayer, services and community.

Chabad Center for Jewish Living. Sanctuary - rendering

Center for Jewish Life. Sanctuary – Rendering

In the Sanctuary you will find: the Ark, the Torah, the Ner Tamid (Eternal Light), the Bimah (Podium), the Amud (Lectern)

The Ark – Aron Kodesh

The Holy Ark (Aron Kodesh), where the Torah Scrolls are kept, is situated in the front of the synagogue. The Ark is the holiest place in the Synagogue. In most synagogues the Holy Ark is on the Eastern wall, so that when we face the ark, we are facing the holy city of Jerusalem, where the Holy Temple once stood. The curtain that covers the ark is called the Parochet. It symbolizes the curtain that was in the Holy Temple. The ark is only opened during special prayers and when removing the Torah to read during prayer services.

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The Torah Scroll

The Torah, which is stored in the ark, is a large scroll of parchment upon which a specially trained Scribe (Sofer) wrote the Five Books of Moses by hand. Reading from the Torah is quite challenging since no vowels or punctuation appear in the text, and each Scribe has a slightly different lettering style.

An authentic Torah scroll is a mind-boggling masterpiece of labor and skill. Comprising between 62 and 84 sheets of parchment-cured, tanned, scraped and prepared according to exacting Torah law specifications-and containing exactly 304,805 letters, the resulting handwritten scroll takes many months to complete. An expert pious scribe carefully inks each letter with a feather quill, under the intricate calligraphic guidelines of Ktav Ashurit (Ashurite Script). The sheets of parchment are then sewn together with sinews to form one long scroll.

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The Ner Tamid – Eternal Light

In many synagogues there is an Eternal Light (Ner Tamid), a continuously burning lamp, which is situated above the Ark. The eternal light is a symbol of the “western lamp,” the perpetual light which constantly burned in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It also serves as a symbol of G-d’s unwavering presence and of our undying faith in G-d.

The Bimah – The Podium

The bimah is the podium located in the center of the sanctuary. The Torah is read from the bimah, and some of the prayers are led from there as well. The podium is covered with a special covering to give honor to the Torah that will be read on it.