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I would like to build a Shulchan (Reading Table) for my local Chabad House.

I'm wondering how tall it should be at the end where one stands, and at what angle the top should be?

Suggestions welcome.

  • 1
    I took out the signature since your post is automatically signed with your username with a link to your profile. If you want to read more about the site, you can read the tour – b a Jun 29 '18 at 12:23
  • If you need an Aron, I may be able to get you one for free. – DanF Jun 29 '18 at 18:12
  • A belated welcome to Mi Yodeya. This is an excellent first question! I hope that my answer assists your decision. – DanF Jun 29 '18 at 20:45
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I'm unaware of any specific halachic dimensions that are required. However, in viewing the common "Ashkenazy" type shulchanot on this site it seems that their common dimensions are 150 cm x 90 cm x 120 cm high with minor variations.

My own thinking, for what it's worth and from my having been a Ba'al Kri'ah in many shuls of varying types, here are some factors to consider:

  • Determine the room spacing, assuming that the shulchan will not be on a bimah. If you are placing it on a bimah, then you will need to adjust your measurements based on the bimah's dimensions.
  • For the sides, mainly, allow enough room for the gabbaim to stand comfortably between the side of the shulchan and the railing or end of the bimah. It sounds crazy, but I have seen bimot that had steps and the spacing was so narrow that people almost fell down the steps!
  • For the width, i.e., the area where you will lay down the Torah, I recommend that you take out the largest Torah that you would use ever on any occasion of the year. Lay it on a regular table and open it up as if you were about to do hagbah (I think it's about 3 - 5 columns.) That will tell you the width and height that you need. I would allow an extra few inches on both dimensions to have some leeway.
  • For the height - If you have a regular paid ba'al Kri'ah, get a table, and have him read / look at a Torah. If he has to bend over to read, then it's an indication that you need to make it higher. Trust me - bending down while you're reading Matot-Mas'ei is hard on the back. Reading Megillah, esp. if you have long Haman breaks is even longer!
  • For the angle - fairly simple rule. If an average siddur starts to slide or a pen rolls very quickly, your angle is too steep.

A minor additional factor that you may want to consider is having ample storage space depending on what you wish to store under the shulchan top. Most shuls store a few siddurim and a haftarah book and perhaps a few tallitot. Those don't require much space. However, my shul stores bottles of wine for Kiddush (yes, it's aged and awful, too), so if you'll be doing that or something similar, you'll need more room, and, that may increase the shulchan's height.

  • Many thanks. A few comments. There is no bima. There is ample room on the sides for gabbai'im. The Rabbi will probably be able to tell me if he needs more horizontal room on the table than he has now. The main issue is indeed height and slope. Since there is no regular Ba'al Kri'ah, and we have a few starters, and a bunch of guys in the bullpen, we will need an average. I think the best thing to do is observe the posture of a few of the fellows when they are reading. Thanks – Ed Greenberg Jul 2 '18 at 13:00
  • You're very welcome. I'm about 6 feet tall. (Sorry, females, my wife already grabbed me ;-) I rarely need to stoop to read unless the Torah has very small print or a bulb goes out. So, I estimate that the height is about 4.5 feet, or a bit above my waist. 120cm is close to 4 ft. I hope that helps, somewhat. – DanF Jul 2 '18 at 16:21

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