Yes, writes Megan Sauter, but their role changed after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. The original synagogues seem to have been intended mainly for study, while post-Temple ones became centers of ritual and prayer, as changes in their construction attest:
All of the Second Temple-period synagogues lack the main architectural characteristic of later synagogues: the Torah shrine. Usually situated on the wall of the synagogue facing Jerusalem, the Torah shrine was the receptacle for the ark containing the Torah scrolls. It became the focus of the later synagogues.