Figure 3-23.-The Jewish bimah (bema). The bimah is the
raised area upon which the shulchan (reading table) and
Ark are placed.
THE BIMAH. The bimah (see figure 3-23) is the raised platform upon which the desk for
reading the Torah and the Ark stands. The reading table itself is referred to as the shulchan.
The bimah represents the altar that once stood in the Jewish temple. The reading table should
be placed in the center of the raised area in front of the ark. You should ensure that there is
sufficient space between the shulchan and the ark to allow the rabbi or the layleader to move
freely. In the event that a reading table is unavailable, the freestanding altar, which can be
found in most military chapels, maybe used provided it has no symbols of other faith groups. If
the altar hangings contain no sectarian symbols they may also be used except for Rosh
Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement). White is
used for these services.