Worship Traditions and Judaism

Religious Jews are required to say their prayers three times a day. Most of the prayers can be said alone, but certain prayers require the presence of a minyan, consisting of ten adult male Jews. In addition, prayers and blessings are recited throughout the day before eating and drinking and on other occasions.

While praying, Jewish males wrap themselves in a white prayer shawl. A skull cap, called a kippah or yarmulke, is always worn during prayers and religious Jews wear one at all times. Phylacteries or tefillin, two small leather boxes containing portions of the Torah, are wrapped around the arms and head by black leather straps during the morning prayers.

Besides the Torah, which is the Hebrew Bible, two other important Jewish Religious books are The Talmud (a compilation of discussions by rabbis over several hundred years), and The Kabbalah (a series of writings growing out of the tradition of Jewish Mysticism.

Jews go to synagogue to pray together. The synagogue acts as a house of study, for traditional Jewish males continue to study throughout their lives. In Orthodox synagogues, the men and women are separated from each other with a partition. Services are usually conducted by the rabbi, but members of the congregation can also lead the service, and a rabbi is not required. The heart of the service is the reading of a portion of the Torah.

All Reform, and most Conservative synagogues have egalitarian participation, in which women read from the Torah and lead services.