Yehuda Eisenberg
A Curriculum in Tefilah

During instruction upon the subject 'the synagogue," various related topics lend themselves to discussion. The following are suggestions which the teacher may find helpful.

A. Topics for Discussions

1. Origins of the synagogue - the first known occurrence of tefilah in a synagogue; the relationship between the synagogue and the Temple as a place of worship; recent discoveries of ancient synagogues.

2. Construction of the synagogue - different architectural designs of synagogues (It may prove worthwhile to take the class for a tour of certain local synagogues to demonstrate such diversity.); the direction of prayer in the synagogue; interior of the synagogue, including the ark, the "beema", the "amud", the women's section, the rabbi's seat.

3. The synagogue as a center for Jewish communal life - the rabbi; synagogue activities; daily schedule in a synagogue.

4. The synagogue as a place of prayer - times of prayer; proper behavior and decorum during tefilah; attitude towards the synagogue.

5. The building of a synagogue - the order of priorities in the use of communal funds (Rambam, Hilchot Tefilah).

B. Slogans (for decorating the room)

Mikdash Me'at; B'rov Am hadrat Melech; Atidim Batey K'nessiyot sh'beBavel sheyikav'u b'eretz Yisrael.

C. Manner of Instruction

The teacher will choose a topic of his liking for class consideration. There are many ways in which he can then proceed to introduce the subject to his students.

1. By reading Maimonides' "Laws of Prayer," chapter 11, which describes the construction of a synagogue and the attitude necessary for tefilah.

2. By dwelling on the history of the synagogue.

3. By describing ancient synagogues.

4. By visiting a synagogue and pointing out its various components.

5. By decorating the room with pictures of Bait haMikdash and beginning the discussion with these.

D. Student Activities

1. The construction of a miniature synagogue, including therein the different parts just learned.

2. The presentation by different students of their observations of their own neighborhood synagogues. These comparisons can then be used to outline the diversity between these different places of prayer.

3. The showing of slides of ancient and modern synagogues. (The Yeshiva University Museum has prepared such a set.)

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