Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Thursday 30th June 2022

The Bimah or Tevah

ArkGlossary Term [1] to the Bimah from where the Torah is read in public to the congregation. The Bimah, like the ArkGlossary Term [2], may be simply or lavishly treated. It may be constructed of timber or stone, frequently with a metalwork balustrade. In Britain, it is generally rectangular in form, with stairs accessing it from the sides or, sometimes, from the rear.

ArkGlossary Term [3] is elevated, is placed in the centre of the space. However, this is not invariably the case. There is no archaeologicalGlossary Term [4] evidence for the position of the Bimah, nor even for the existence of a Bimah, before the Middle Ages. In Ashkenazi (Central and East European, German and Yiddish speaking)communities the Bimah is in the centre - as in the majority of congregations in the UK. However, in the Sephardi (Spanish & Portuguese)tradition, where it is known as the Tevah, it is placed towards the west end, for example in Britain's oldest synagogue, Bevis Marks, London (1701).

ArkGlossary Term [5], Bimah and pulpitGlossary Term [6], (the latter an innovation based on church practice), all facing the congregation on the E wall. A good example is that in the Dohany Temple, Budapest. This spread to Britain and was widely adopted, even by some Orthodox congregations.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009