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Large Jewish communities wished to show not only their wealth but also their newly acquired status as citizens by constructing magnificent synagogues.

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Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of prayer, Tanakh (the entire Hebrew Bible, including the Torah) reading, study and assembly; however, a synagogue is not necessary for worship.

Halakha holds that communal Jewish worship can be carried out wherever ten Jews (a minyan) assemble.

Synagogues have a large place for prayer (the main sanctuary), and may also have smaller rooms for study and sometimes a social hall and offices.

Some have a separate room for Torah study, called the beth midrash "house of study".

Worship can also be carried out alone or with fewer than ten people assembled together.