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Difference between a Synagogue and a Jewish Temple

Difference between a Synagogue and a Jewish Temple

If you’re Jewish, you may be wondering what the difference is between a synagogue and a temple. Both buildings are used for religious purposes, but there are some key distinctions between them. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

What is a Synagogue?

A synagogue is a Jewish place of worship. Synagogues are found in communities all over the world, and they vary in size and style. Some synagogues are grand and ornate, while others are more simple. Synagogues typically have a main room where services are held, and they may also have smaller rooms for study or prayer. The most important part of a synagogue is the Ark, which is where the Torah scrolls are kept. Synagogues also have a sanctuary, which is a place for prayer and reflection. Synagogues are open to all people, regardless of their religious beliefs.

What is a Jewish Temple?

  • A Jewish temple is a building used for Jewish religious worship. Jewish temples were traditionally designed to be orientationally correct, meaning that they were facing Jerusalem. Jewish temples were also built on high ground so that they could be seen from afar.
  • The most important Jewish temple was the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Jewish temples typically contain an altar, a Holy of Holies, and a courtyard. The altar is where sacrifices are made.
  • The Holy of Holies is the innermost sanctum of the temple, and only the High Priest is allowed to enter. The courtyard is where people gather to pray and worship. Jewish temples are also used for education and social gatherings.

Difference between a Synagogue and a Jewish Temple

  • Synagogue and Jewish Temple are two words that are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. A Synagogue is a Jewish house of worship, but it can also be a place for study and contemplation. A Jewish Temple, on the other hand, is a place of worship that contains the Holy Ark, which houses the Ten Commandments.
  • In addition, Temples are generally larger than Synagogues and often have more elaborate architecture. Synagogues are found in cities all over the world, while Temples are typically only found in Israel.
  • As a result, Synagogues are more accessible to Jews living outside of Israel. For these reasons, Synagogues are often the preferred choice for Jewish worship.


There is a lot of overlap between synagogues and temples, but there are also some key differences. If you’re interested in learning more about either type of Jewish house of worship, we encourage you to reach out to your local synagogue or temple and ask questions. You may even want to visit one or both buildings so that you can see for yourself the differences and similarities.

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