Friday, November 27, 2009

Airport synagogue

This is the little synagogue in Terminal 3, one of two synagogues at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The ends of the pews even have the airport logo in the wood.

The table on which the Torah scroll is opened and read.

The covering of the holy ark has a representation of the Temple as it may have looked two thousand years ago.
The words describing the Torah are from the Bible: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace."

Lots of holy books in case you have hours of waiting at the airport.

You can even get a Torah lesson by touching the screen.

Behind the beautiful men's section is the drab little corner where the women must stay in order not to be seen or heard.
Yes, it is an Orthodox synagogue.

The posts at the entrance remind you to leave your luggage trolley outside during the prayer services.
Yesterday was the first time I found the synagogue empty and was thus able to enter and shoot some photos.
Haaretz had an interesting article about this in Nov. 2009. Apparently a Muslim prayer room and a Christian chapel had been in the original plans for Terminal 3, which opened in 2004.
Haaretz says "Ultra-Orthodox political pressure has stalled the construction of a church and a mosque at Ben-Gurion International Airport for the past five years ...."
(Linking to inSPIREd Sunday and signs, signs.)


Kay said...

That's very impressive to see that beautiful place of worship in an airport. Wow!

spacedlaw said...

I have never entered a chapel in an airport to compare but this looks very elaborate.

Gallow said...

It looks like a great place of quiet prayer in an area of noise and confusion. What a neat idea.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

It looks like a great little synagogue, for the men.

Leif Hagen said...

What a wonderful thing! I've never seen a place to pray or reflect in an American airport . . .

RuneE said...

A highly interesting view into an unknown world, but I must I found the last sentences the most thought provoking.

PS Thank you for the comment - I did not receive your first comment as far as I know (I was away this morning). However, it seems I have lost other comments the last few days too. Blogger does as Blogger will.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen a chapel in an airport -- Hawaii, Asia, Canada, Europe or the mainland. But, this is Israel and the Holy Land, so naturally, there would be one. Sad that the women must sit separately from the men, though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting

The Orthodox must have an incredible amount of political power to stall the creation of sacred space for others. So unfortunate

Heres a question... who does the embroidery for the holy ark covering? If it's done by hand then it must be a special privilege.

Pat said...

What a nice touch for an airport to have a secluded room for worship and prayer! Thanks for sharing.

Nadege said...

Yogi wrote "great place for the men". Aren't women allowed?

Dina said...

Shalom Kay, Spacedlaw, Gallow, Yogi, Leif, Gigi, and all. I am surprised y'all are not familiar with airport prayer/meditation rooms. But then, they are usually hidden away in some far corner of the international airports and you really have to seek them out.
The rooms are usually empty so they make a good place of refuge from the constant movement and sounds of the terminal. Good when you have 6 or 7 hours between planes.
In Chicago's O'Hare I came into the chapel just before a Mass was starting. I sat in the back row. The assistant priest came to me, of all people, and asked if I'd do the honors of bringing the bread and wine up to the altar for Eucharist. I must have surprised him when I said "No, I can't. Sorry!"

Dina said...

Nadege and Gigi, yes, it is the Orthodox Jewish way. Men sit separately from women in the synagogue. In many cases the space allotted to the women is a fraction of the space for men. This is because women are not obligated to fulfill certain time-bound commandments, e.g. doing group prayer at certain times of the day. This is because women had/have so many duties at home, in the kitchen and with the kids.

Dina said...

Pasadena Adjacent, they DO, the ultra-Orthodox have much power. Any elected party needs the Orthodox parties in their coalition in order to have a big enough majority to form a government.

The ark cover (parochet) said "Donated by Tova Embroidery, N.Y." and in Hebrew it said "A donation of Tova Embroidery B"B [Bnei Brak]."
Your question made me look for their website and it is interesting.
About the artistic hand-made embroidery, see

For the paragraph of how Tova learned the art from her father, see

Dina said...

Pat, yes. You should see it at the afternoon prayer time. It is packed!

Rune, glad you said that. I find it scandalous that our INTERnational airport does not have the guts to go ahead and open a chapel for Christians and a prayer room for Moslems, as originally planned.

Glennis said...

I wonder, is there also a chapel where Christians can stop in and pray? Probably not.

Dimple said...

Thanks Dina. I have never had the opportunity to visit a synagogue of any sort, and you have taken me inside more than one!

ellen said...

I joined the camera critters. Hope you can find time to visit my very first entry to this meme. Thank you and God bless. Indeed a blessing to see you around.

Hilda said...

Fascinating. I don't think our airport has any kind of prayer room.

Cloudia said...

Another interesting post about the unique land.

Shabbat Shalom & Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

FA said...

Great post, Dina....and and a surprisingly beautiful worship space. The few airports that have chapels in the U.S. are not anywhere close to being this nice. Sadly, I think that we will see less and less public Christian chapels around the U.S. They seem to be politically incorrect!

Dina said...

FA, thanks for your input. It made me do some research on the subject.
Good info at

Cloudia and Glennis, I hope next year to post about non-Jewish prayer places at the unique airport. May they be built speedily and in our time.

Hilda, you could check. Maybe. They are usually pretty well hidden. Please let us know if yes.

Dimple, I hope you get to visit a synagogue in person someday soon.

Glennis, anyone is welcome to sit in the synagogue or to join a service. I even walked in with a habited nun friend once.

Jew Wishes said...

What a lovely post, so inspiring, as are your photos of the synagogue.

Tom said...

a place for quiet reflection

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Very interesting Dina, from many standpoints. Thank you for what I learned about current life in your country ( I read the comments too) and for of course the beautiful pictures, so serene and I'm sure a place like that is very welcome in any airport. (I would have asked the same question someone else did about whether anyone could go into it -- your comments were definitely worth reading).

Bill Nicholls said...

Only ever seen multi faith places of worship in airports nice they have gone to the trouble at this one to build a Synagogue