Synagogues & Prayers
A Synagogue is a gathering place where Jews congregate and pray.
Jewish men are committed to pray three times a day. Praying as part of a group (called a 'Minyan') in a synagogue is very important; yet, if one does not have a synagogue, one must pray alone. There are three daily prayers: the morning prayer, the afternoon prayer and the evening prayer.
The morning prayer is recited early in the morning, as early as sunrise. The afternoon prayer is recited before sunset and the evening prayer is recited after sunset.
The prayers in Judaism are a form of meditation; they present two aspects:
1. Praising God for the amazing creation, for granting us such an amazing world and all of our personal and global needs.
2. Asking God to grant us all of our needs - both as individuals and as communities/nations.
The prayers in Judaism were formed following the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem. During the era of the Temple, prayers were not structured, constant.
When a person came to the Temple to present an offering, the priest would instruct him/her what to consider and how to express their gratitude to God or express a wish, a need.
The destruction of the Temple presented a whole new reality: no central place for connecting with God, no offering, no one place for gathering and performing rituals. The world's spiritual center was gone.
The Rabbis who survived the war were very much concerned in regards to the spiritual life of the Jewish Nation. They decided to form a structured prayer format so the Jewish people will have daily meditation sessions during which they will be connecting with God, acknowledging his greatness and celebrating the holidays.
Special prayers were composed for the Sabbath and for the Holidays.
A Minyan is a group of at least 10 men. The ritual of praying three times a day, in a Minyan,
is a commandment relevant to men only.
Women do not have to pray three times a day (though they can and are highly praised if they decide to do so) nor do they have to do it in a group.
Women must pray once a day. They are required to dedicate some time, daily, to praying. They have the freedom to recite their own prayers, in their own words.