The bima of Munich's main synagogue. Note the ner tamid hanging above the ark (center) and the candelabras on either side. (Wikimedia Commons)

What Is A Bimah?

The focal point of the synagogue sanctuary.

The bimah (pronounced BEE-ma) is the raised platform in the synagogue from which the Torah is read and services led.

While in many traditional and Sephardic synagogues, the bimah is located in the center of the sanctuary, in most modern liberal synagogues, the bimah is at the front, with the ark (the cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are stored) located behind it. The ner tamid lamp (representing eternal light and a reminder of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem) traditionally hangs above the ark.

In many synagogues, the president, rabbis and other leaders or honored guests, such as the family of a bar/bat mitzvah celebrant, sit on chairs on the bimah during services.

In Modern Hebrew, bimah refers not just to a synagogue platform, but also to a theater stage.

 

 

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