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West London Synagogue

In the Temple, musical instruments played an important role in the service. However, the Orthodox Jewish tradition forbids the playing of musical instruments in the synagogue on the Sabbath and only permits the unaccompanied male voice. In Britain, from the mid Victorian period onwards, when large-scale "cathedral" synagogues became fashionable, a choirGlossary Term galleryGlossary Term was sometimes introduced. A favoured position for the choirGlossary Term was behind the ArkGlossary Term, hidden by a grille and/or textile screenGlossary Term. Sometimes the choirGlossary Term was accommodated on an extra large Bimah or in a deep W galleryGlossary Term facing the ArkGlossary Term.

In the 19th century Reform Jews also introduced organ music, borrowed from Christian church practice. In England, West London Synagogue (1870) has an elaborate, integrated pipe organ, a great rarity in a British synagogue.



Chest or cupboard housing the tables of Jewish law in a synagogue.


The part of a cathedral, monastic church or collegiate church where services are sung.


A long room or passage; an upper storey above the aisles of a church, looking through arches to the nave; a balcony or mezzanine overlooking the main interior space of a building; or an external walkway.


In a medieval church, usually set at the entry to the chancel. A parclose screen separates a chapel from the rest of the church. A rood screen was placed below a representation of the Crucifixion (called a rood).