Copyright/attribution: David Jacobs
What do you see?
We can see some books on a white cloth in the centre of the photograph. We can also see a balcony over looking the main room. Look closely. What do you see?
What do we know?
This is a photograph of Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue taken before it closed in the 1980s. Until the late 20th century, there was a thriving Jewish Community in Merthyr and the synagogue was the heart of the community. The Merthyr synagogue was an Orthodox synagogue, and the women would sit in the upper galleries, as it is tradition for men and women to be separated once inside the shul.
The highlight of synagogue service is the weekly reading of the Torah portion. The Torah is divided into sections known as parshah, and each week on a Saturday morning a different section is read out loud in synagogue. This continues throughout the year until the whole Torah has been read. The cycle begins again each year at the festival of Simchat Torah, usually celebrated in the Autumn.
What do we wonder?
We might wonder what other festivals were celebrated in the synagogue? We might wonder which sections of the Torah are read at different times of year? What do you wonder?
Why do you think it is important that the Torah is read out loud in synagogue?
Why might belonging to a synagogue be important for many Jewish people?