The Synagogue

The synagogue was the center of Jewish worship. It was during their exile in Babylonia that the Jews learned to preserve their faith by studying the Scriptures and discussing them in local meetings, or "synagogues". The prophet Ezekiel was instrumental in this development. The synagogue was simply a rectangular hall, with a pillared portico of Grecian architecture, of which the further extremity (where the sanctuary was placed) usually pointed towards Jerusalem. In wealthier places it was built of white marble, and sculptured on the outside in alto-relievo, with rude ornaments of vine-leaves and grapes, or the budding rod and pot of manna.

Through the separation from the temple, the synagogue became he center of Judaism. Around them were scholars, merchants, and laborers. They respectfully sat on the floor or on the stone steps along the walls. On entering, there were seats on one side for the men; on the other, behind a lattice in the rear of the synagogue, were seated the women, shrouded in their long veils. This was designed to prevent a man from accidentally touching a menstruant woman and becoming unclean.
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