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Insightful synagogue visit for Second Years


As part of their places of worship visits, Second Year Religion, Philosophy and Ethics pupils visited Gatley Synagogue to learn more about the Jewish faith.

After taking a seat in The Synagogue, the pupils listened to a short talk by Rabbi Greg and two members of the congregation spoke to them in more detail about the faith, the building and the traditions as well as showing them important items.

They spoke about the history of Synagogues in general before explaining that the community built the Synagogue complex, containing the Main Synagogue, the Hall and the classrooms in 1968.

The pupils were told about why the the Synagogue was designed as it was, with an elevated platform (Bimah) used as an orator’s podium, the plaque with the ten commandments, the twelve tapestries representing the tribes of Israel, the Eternal Light – a symbol of God being eternal and being the light – and the ark which houses the scrolls of the Bible (Torah).

The talk continued with pupils trying on prayer shawls and head covering (Kippah), learning about the Sabbath and how many times the Jewish people pray and about why Tefillin – a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah – are worn by men on the forehead and on the arm when praying on weekday mornings.

Pupils also learnt that when a Jewish boy is 13 years old he becomes accountable for his actions and becomes a ‘Barmitzvah’ and a girl becomes a ‘Batmitzvah’ at the age of 12 or 13 according to Reform Jews.

Speaking about the visit Lucia Smart said: “We knew quite a lot about the Jewish faith from what we learnt in class but it was really interesting to learn new things during the visit. I learnt about what the banners on the walls meant and thought that the fact that they didn’t have any statues – because they didn’t want people to pray to statues – was fascinating.”

Eddie Griffiths added: “Trips like this allow you to learn something new. I was impressed by how much respect radiates from everything that they do.”