In ancient times, Jews offered animal sacrifices in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, in addition to their prayers. Since the year 70, sacrifices are no longer offered up.
Jews may pray in a synagogue somewhat differently if they are Orthodox vs. non-Orthodox. Jews who go to a synagogue pray in Hebrew (non-Orthodox Jews also use their native language for prayer).
Jewish prayer-books have a structured order. Prayers are ancient, and often are sung or chanted.
While praying, Jews either sit in chairs, or stand, depending on the prayer. There is also some bowing forward (in the Amidah and Aleinu).
In between the prayers, Kaddish is said; and the Torah is read
on many occasions.
Jews attend synagogues. Prayer services are mostly in the Hebrew language, and many prayers are sung. There are also different types of services, some including the reading of the Torah.
The Jewish prayer-book has a structured order. Prayers are ancient, and often are sung or chanted. Some prayers are said in unison (such as Shir Hakavod), and some are not. Some prayers are said more than once per day (such as the Shema), some once a day (such as Yotzer Ohr), and others are said only on Sabbath, festivals or certain occasions. Some prayers are said aloud (such as Kaddish), some are sung (such as Lekha Dodi) and some are to be whispered (the Amidah). Most of the services are in Hebrew, but a couple of prayers are in Aramaic (such as Brikh Shemei).
While praying, Jews either sit, or stand, depending on the prayer. There is also some bowing forward (in the Amidah and Aleinu), but Jews today do not kneel except once a year on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
In between the prayers, Kaddish is said; and the Torah is read on many occasions (over two hundred times a year).
While formal prayer services are held in the synagogue three times each day throughout the year, many other blessings (such as those over meals) are said in the home.
The importance of prayer:
Prayer services are part of halakha (Jewish law) and tradition (Talmud, Berakhot 26a); and the Torah records several prayers of our forefathers.
Prayer is an important form of communicating with God, and maintaining a relationship with Him; and it is also good for the health of the soul, to which Torah, prayer and religious observances are a form of nourishment. Judaism sees it as centrally important to thank God, to recognize that He is the source of prosperity, and to be close to Him.
According to our tradition, we can pray privately when necessary, but communal prayer has a much stronger effect (Talmud, Berakhot 7b-8a). It also strengthens the spiritual level and the bonds within the community.
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