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In Judaism, a community house of worship that also serves as a place for assembly and study. Though their exact origins are uncertain, synagogues flourished side by side with the ancient Temple cult; they existed long before Jewish sacrifice and the established priesthood were terminated with Titus's destruction of the Second Temple (AD 70). Thereafter, synagogues took on even greater importance as the unchallenged focal point of Jewish life. There is no standard synagogue architecture. A typical synagogue contains an ark (where the scrolls of the Law are kept), an eternal light burning before the ark, two candelabra, pews, a bimah (seebema), and sometimes a ritual bath (mikvah).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on synagogue, visit Britannica.com.