On the ground floor of the Great Synagogue a new exhibition focuses on Jewish religion and tradition. Visitors are soon aware of the remarkable nature of the place in which they find themselves and experience the synagogue's atmosphere. Superb ceremonial objects are shown in locations where they used to be placed in the synagogue; the furnishings emulate synagogue furniture, like the bimah - the central podium from which the Torah scroll is read in synagogue. Three-dimensional computer reconstructions of the building in different periods, historical film clips and audio recordings bring the synagogue to life. Many new films reflect the enormous diversity of contemporary Jewish life.

Various films feature key events in Jewish life, as well as annual Jewish festivals and Shabbat. Presenting Jewish ceremonies in contemporary Dutch settings, they complement the central themes of the exhibition. Dutch Jews talk about their religious experiences. Other film clips capture the atmosphere of Jewish life in the Netherlands before the war, accompanied by interviews about personal memories of the period. The films are shown on screens in the desks around the bimah; these are where the synagogue seats once stood. On the bimah itself, the focus is on the Torah and the synagogue service.

Tentoonstelling Religie in Grote Synagoge. Foto: Liselore KampingThe combination of objects, texts, images, quotes and audiovisual effects conveys the enormous wealth, diversity and contemporary character of the Jewish religion and tradition. The underlying theme of the exhibition is the Jewish vision of tikun olam, the perfecting of the world and the sanctity of life. Everything we do counts. It is important to take time to reflect about this, both in a personal context and at various times with the community at large. This is a universal message: it is something that every visitor can draw on, whatever their background or religion.

An audiotour provides additional information on the exhibition.