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Origination The synagogue originated in Biblical times when the temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish life The oldest dating of a synagogue ever existing is from the 3rd century BC but synagogues likely have an older history The temple was destroyed in 586-587 BC giving rise to the institution of the synagogue after private homes were temporarily used for religious instructions teachings and worships The synagogue became the most important center for the preservation and unionization of Judaism However some scholars trace the origin of synagogues to the Jewish custom of having communities outside of Jerusalem come together and pray during a two-week period During this time representatives of their community attended ritual sacrifices in the Temple of Jerusalem Synagogues flourished side by side with the ancient Temple cult and existed long before Jewish sacrifice and the established priesthood were terminated by the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus in 70 AD Two devastating wars in Judea during the first and second centuries CE explain the difficulty in trying to find remains of such buildings It is very complicated to try to find these buildings because the local civic and religious centers had the first structures in every town demolished by the Romans From then on synagogues took on an even greater importance as the unchallenged focal point of the Jewish religious life After establishing a pre-70 date for a structure the excavators adhere to a number of criteria in determining whether or not a building is a synagogue Archeologists date an excavated structure by determining whether the building is a synagogue using modern geology that deals with rock strata called stratigraphy methods These include the presence of sacred Jewish symbols the presence of identifying inscriptions the presence of a nearby ritual bath or natural water source and the presence of communal dining facilities Meaning A synagogue also spelled synagog in Judaism is a community
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