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Planning for best ‘seat comfort’ in synagogues

Since the term comfort is a subjective feeling describing the relationship between the user and the way the product is used, more objective measurement indices are required. Seating in the theater is not like seating in a synagogue. This article provides assistance in properly calibrating comfort.

We want to show you what we are looking for in comfort design, to give you a better idea of what goes into this aspect of the purchase decision.

The term “comfort” expresses a subjective feeling of the relationship between user and the way he uses the product. Clearly, sitting in a theater is totally unlike sitting in a synagogue. In both cases, the furniture is used for seating, but the activity carried out by the user is totally different and significantly affects the design of the seating and “comfort” of the seat. As a result of the mode of usage, one normally finds that theater seats are usually deeper and have thicker and softer upholstery, to produce a “sinking” sensation.

In the theater, the angles between the seat and the back are planned so as to enable sitting back and focusing sight on the stage / screen located in front. The seating system in a synagogue is planned in a totally different manner, in order to best serve the worshipper. The upholstery system, angle of seating, seat height etc. are planned so as to give a sense of comfort, relative to the varying uses of the seat.

Since comfort is mainly a subjective issue, we need to find the main factors affecting this feeling, and plan the seating system in such a way so as to give a feeling of comfort amongst the majority of the congregation. The following are some of the factors affecting the feeling of comfort, and we will go into one of them in more detail:

Physical build of the user – Height, width of body, length of legs relative to the body as a whole etc. all significantly affect the feeling of comfort. It is reasonable to assume that in any congregation there are women, men and children each with a different body build. Accordingly the feeling of comfort needs to reflect the widest possible common denominator.
Location of the seat in the synagogue – The distance from the main focus of activity and the angle of vision from that point, are a determining factor in the feeling of comfort. Sitting in the women`s section in the “gallery” is nothing like sitting in the front row of the synagogue.

Density of seating, floor angle, acoustics, height differences – Within the synagogue space and additional physical features arising from the structure of the synagogue need to be taken into account, since they affect the feeling of comfort.

Usage characteristics of the seating system change dramatically during prayer – These require a certain surrender of the comfort of the seating itself, in order to attain an optimum serving all the different situations. We can mention the transition from sitting to standing, and vice versa, many times during the course of prayer, the desire to read from the prayer book in different positions and from different distances, the need to enable worshipers passage along the row during prayer, the length of the prayer, which dictates the amount of time the seating system is being used. These and many other aspects explain the need to surrender some the comfort in a particular position in order to move conveniently to a different position.

Usage of the synagogue building for different purpose when the prayer hall is not in use for worship – (study hall, moving benches for Simchat Torah etc.) sometimes dictate changes to the structure of the individual seat and the bench as whole, and indirectly affect the objective feeling of comfort.

Seating upholstery – is aimed mainly at increasing the feeling of comfort, which we have already spoken about at length.