The Synagogue is the place where people of equal standing meet together to pray to their God without any need for an intermediary. The Scrolls of the Law, are kept in a coffer in a cupboard, called the Ark of the Covenant, in the eastern wall of the synagogue. The Holy Scriptures are read from a high pulpit called the Bimah in the centre of the synagogue. The Ashkenazim cover the cupboard with a curtain, called parochet, usually decorated with two pillars which symbolise the two Temples of Jerusalem, and the lion motif, the Jewish symbol of the tribe of Judah. The menorah, is a traditional symbol of the Jewish religion, a seven-branched candelabrum, was kept continuously alight in the Temple of Jerusalem, and so in synagogues, a light is always kept burning to indicate the eternal presence of God. The salaried officials employed in the synagogue are: the Rabbi, religious teacher and leader; the Cantor who chants the liturgy and also leads the congregation in prayer; and the caretaker. However, anyone with a high standing who can read and understand the Holy Scriptures may perform the duties of the Cantor. It is an honour to be called upon to read from the Scrolls, and a pointer, (yad) is used to avoid soiling or damaging the sacred text through handling. In some instances, three men are present during the reading from the Scrolls: one points with the yad, one reads and the third one checks to make sure that the Word of God is read without a mistake. Worshippers face Jerusalem during the service, conduct of which is regarded as the province of males. The Scrolls of the Law are carried from their place and handed to the reader and honour is bestowed through the actions of wrapping these in their covering cloth (in East Europe), replacing them within the coffer (for Sephardim and Oriental Jews), presenting the Tables to the congregation before the reading (for Sephardim and Oriental Jews) and after the reading (for East European Jews).
In large synagogues, there are also classrooms, libraries and reception rooms, as in the religious foundations of Islam. The synagogue is more than a place of worship; it is also a community centre or meeting house, where no one is manager, so no one can interfere with anyone else. Worship is not strictly formal, so people can wander around and talk to each other in a relaxed way, and it is customary for friends and neighbours to chat before or after the service. There are no musical instruments in the synagogue.
Jewish men always wear a head-covering during worship in a synagogue; this is a kind of skull-cap, called kippah or yarmulka. Prayers are read in the morning, at noon and at evening, and during the morning service a stoll or shawl, called tallith, is worn. At weekday morning prayers, the reader puts on two black leather prayer boxes, each containing four passages from the Torah,written in Hebrew and Aramaic. These are known as tephillin. One is strapped to the forehead, and one to the upper arm nearest to the heart. In the Liberal and Reform synagogues organ and choir and the practice of worshipping with uncovered heads and without the prayer shawl were established.