“The synagogue had the most profound political and spiritual consequences. It turned Jews from a people defined by territory into that rarest of phenomena, a global nation. ”
“The synagogue was Jerusalem in exile, a country of the mind, the place where the prayers of a scattered people met and temporarily reunited them across time and space. The bet knesset was the home of a homeless nation, the centre of its collective life, and when the second Temple was destroyed, it sustained them as a nation through the longest exile any people has ever suffered and survived. ”
“The synagogue was one of Jewry’s greatest creations. It sustained the Jewish people through almost two thousand years of exile. It kept them together as the only nation ever to survive an extended period without a land, a country or political power, dispersed throughout the world. It was their spiritual home, educational citadel and welfare centre, and it connected them to all other Jews through time and space. Wherever ten Jews gathered and formed a community, it was as if they were the entire Jewish people in microcosm. Wherever they sat and studies it was as if they were back at Sinai. ”
“By building communities around the synagogue in space, and the Sabbath in time, Jews became the living circle at whose centre is God. ”
“Only a monotheistic people could have invented the synagogue. Other ancient gods were territorial. They were the gods of this land, not that. But the God of Abraham, creator of heaven and earth, was the God of everywhere. Therefore he could be reached anywhere. ”