The Doors of Rememberance
The synagogue has been the central communal building in Jewish society for almost two thousand years.  In the years preceding the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. (B.C.E.), the synagogue/temple was primarily a house of assembly, (Bet-Knesset). Devoted to the communal needs of the people. Dealing with local issues in the realm of legal, social, and the economy.

In the decades following the destruction of the Temple, the synagogue took on the additional tasks of representing through the institution of the thrice-daily prayer ritual, the practice of sacrifice. In the days of the Temple, prayer was not considered necessary; do to the practice of the sacrifices. Now the individual congregations handled the praise of The Lord. It was no longer necessary to have a go between, now the average Jew was able to communicate directly with The Lord. There was great disarray, and confusion at first. This was only heightened by the lack of the unifying symbol of the Temple, and the High Priest, whose position required that he render The Lords judgment; in so much as it was his interpretation of the Law. However over time, the prayer ritual was able to replace the sacrificial system, the synagogue was to evolve into a House of Prayer (Bet-Teffilah), a house of Study (Bet-Midrash), and a House of Assembly (Bet-Knesset) dealing with the social, religious, legal, and economic activities of the community.

The tastes and inclinations of each and every community or organization, governed all the positions of the local synagogue/temple. Including but not limited to the physical, communal, socical, cultural and religious activities.

As a communal institution, the synagogue/temple was all-inclusive. The entire gamut of communal needs was met within the framework, and in turn the synagogue/temple reflected the communities aspirations (desires), in its physical appearance, functions, and leadership.

Neither Jewish tradition or law prescribes a specific place of worship, or a required style of prayer. These have developed over time and place. The style and function of the synagogues and the Jewish communities around the world reflect the realities of geo-political and economic situations they found themselves in. This of course is the secret as to why the Jewish people have survived all these many millennia. By not being tied to a country, where they were not wanted. Or to a place, where they were not appreciated. Or to a house of worship, (being Jewish, means you can prayer any place you want). No need of a Rabbi, or a choir. Of course if you are observant, the necessary quorum, ten persons, are needed to have a formal service. The Jewish people were able to survive revolutions, upheavals, Kings, zealots, hell bent on their destruction. With fiddle, a few kopeks, the Jewish people secure in their faith, were able to change, evolve, react, and morph, thereby outlive all those other peoples who disappeared. All those who were too structured, too rigid in their faith, feeling, not willing to change with the times, and survive.

The Chicago Experience however, represents a totally different situation. Where as, in most major U. S. cities, the indigenous Jewish population has tended to stay in pretty much the same portion of the city proper, or at least in the general area. The Jewish population had to move through what I would call the “economic migration”. This term meaning, rather than stay in a familiar area of the city, i.e. Maxwell Street Area, Lawndale, South Shore, the Jewish population in these areas seeing a change occurring, and not much to their liking, literally pick-up, pack-up, and leave en mass to more (usually) affluent neighborhoods in the city. The Jewish people of Chicago, in theory as well as practice mirrored their European ancestors and contemporaries in their migration from one neighborhood to another. As if they were leaving a shtetel town, looking for Valhalla in the new world.

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