Sacred Writings

Every synagogue has an Ark which houses the scrolls of the Torah. There should according to tradition be a handwritten copy of the Torah which must be perfect in every detail.


1. The letters TNK stand for the initial letters of the three divisions of the Jewish Bible:

¨ Torah – Law

¨ Nevi’im – Prophets

¨ Ketuvim – Writings

2. There are 39 books written by different authors over a period of 1,000 years.

3. They were initially passed down verbally and were then set in writing and approved in 90CE to comprise the Jewish Bible.

4. In Jewish schools Bible studies account for 30% of the curriculum.

5. In Jerusalem the Shrine of the Book (Bible), is a central symbol of the Bible’s importance and houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and some of the ancient Bible scrolls.

6. The Torah is believed to be perfect and needs no alterations and each part is of equal importance.

7. Reform Jews believe we can distinguish between ‘values for all times’ and ‘temporary’ aspects.


1. Prophets – God called the prophet and gave him is message to declare to the people. The messages are written in the Books of the Prophets and they form the second part of the Jewish Bible. They can be divided into Major & Minor prophets:


Isaiah, Jeremiah & Ezekiel


Hosea, Obadiah, Nahum, Haggai, Joel, Jonah, Habakkuk, Zechariah, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah & Malachi


1. The third book of the Bible is a collection of miscellaneous books – some are widely used such as the Book of Psalms (embracing human experience from birth to death).The Book of Psalms is widely used in the synagogue services.

Other books are the:

¨ Book of Esther – ¨ Book of Ecclesiastes – ¨ Book of Chronicles – ¨ Book of Ruth – ¨ Book of Job


1. It is a collection of teachings collected over a period of 500 years. It is the ‘Oral’ law and consists of two parts:

¨ THE MISHNAH – was completed in about 200 CE and is a commentary on a variety of subjects from agriculture to holy days, to hygiene to temple service.

¨ THE GEMARA – is a commentary on the Mishnah as to how to interpret it.

2. The Talmud also contains instructions on legal matters called the HALACHAH.

3. Teachings on Moral issues are given in parables in the AGADAH.

4. The style is attractive and teachings are given in sayings etc i.e:

‘The punishment of the liar is that no one will believe him when he speaks the truth.’

‘Three things keep the world safe: truth, judgement and peace’.

‘He who teaches his own son will make his enemies jealous’.


1. The Jewish Prayer Book (Siddur). It is an order of prayer for use in the synagogue. Orthodox Jews in Britain use the Authorised Daily Prayer Book.

2. The Siddur lays down what is included in the weekday & Sabbath services.

3. It was compiled in the 9th Century by Rav Amram of Sura. The first printed prayer book appeared in 1485.

4. The form is always the same: morning, afternoon and evening prayer – the HALLEL psalms, prayers for the new moon – the KADDISH, prayers for the holy days – the AMIDAH.