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A synagogue, also called a shul or a temple, is a place of worship for Jews and Samaritans. It has a place for prayer (the main sanctuary and sometimes smaller chapels) where Jews attend religious services or special ceremonies such as weddings, b'nai mitzvah, choir performances, and children's plays. They also have rooms for study, social halls, administrative and charitable offices, classrooms for religious and Hebrew studies, and many places to sit and congregate. They often display commemorative, historic, or modern artwork alongside items of Jewish historical significance or history about the synagogue itself.
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Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of Jewish prayer, study, assembly, and reading of the Torah (read in its entirety once a year, or in some synagogues on a triennial cycle, in weekly Torah portions during religious services). However, a synagogue is not always necessary for Jewish worship, due to adaptations during times of Jewish persecution in countries and regions that banned Judaism, frequently destroying and/or reappropriating synagogues into churches or even government buildings. Halakha (Jewish law, or Mitzvot, from the Mishnah – the "Oral Torah") states that communal Jewish worship can be carried out wherever a minyan (a group of at least 10 Jewish adults) is assembled, often (but not necessarily) led by a rabbi. Worship can also happen alone or with fewer than 10 people, but there are certain prayers that are considered by halakha as solely communal, and these can therefore be recited only by a minyan, depending on sect of Judaism. In terms of its specific ritual and liturgical functions, the synagogue does not replace the symbol of the long-destroyed Temple in Jerusalem (the First Temple and the Second Temple).
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