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Places of Worship videos - Judaism

Video duration: 9 minutes approximately.

The Synagogue

This film features Exeter Synagogue, home to the Exeter Hebrew Congregation since 1763, and one of the oldest in the country.

In the film, Dr Paul Newgass, one of the leaders of the congregation and a regular worshipper, introduces the core beliefs of Judaism and outlines the important features of the Synagogue explaining the various artefacts and their symbolism.

The Synagogue is of traditional design. The focus of the Synagogue is the Ark to be found at the front, which contains the Torah scrolls - the five books of Moses. Above the Ark are depicted the two Tablets with the Ten Commandments - a traditional synagogue feature - and seen burning is the 'everlasting light' or Ner Tamid, recalling the lamp that was kept alight in the Temple in Jerusalem. Services are led, and the Torah read, from the raised Bimah in the centre of the Synagogue.

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This film is in line with the national expectations for Religious Education as outlined by the non-statutory guidelines for RE. Learning objectives for levels 1-8 in both attainment targets, Learning about Religions & Learning from Religions can be drawn from this film.

Students should be able to recognize, identify, describe and show understanding of the features of religious life and practice in Judaism. They should also be able to explain the beliefs and teachings arising from the film and relate some religious practices seen here to the lifestyles of the worshippers.

By comparing the lifestyles of Jewish people with their own, and identifying what influences these people of faith, students should be able to come to a greater appreciation of what it is to be a person of faith and the importance it holds for that person.


1. The Synagogue has distinct features. What are they? To what extent are the features in this Synagogue linked to the beliefs of the congregation? How is the importance of the Torah scrolls reflected in the design of the synagogue?

2. Synagogues have traditionally been linked to learning. In what ways do the architecture and layout of a synagogue help this to happen? In what way can learning and worship be linked? Suggest possible ways in which the importance of having various symbols in the synagogue are made?

3. Jewish worship is congregational. What does this mean? In what ways does the synagogue bring people of various ages together?

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