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Jewish Prayers and Beliefs
See if you can get full marks in this informative quiz.

Jewish Prayers and Beliefs

Jewish prayers are based on the teachings of the Talmud, the ‘Book of Learning’, itself based on the Old Testament, in particular, the Five Books of Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These in turn form the first part of the Christian Bible. As with most traditional religions of Judeo-Christian belief, based on the Ten Commandments, there are specific prayers for most occasions- birth, marriage, death, grace for meals etc.

1.
In a typical synagogue, you will always find a ....
statue of Moses
water cooler
constantly burning (electric) light
basin at the top left of the main congregational room, with on-demand, cold running water
Judaism does not worship to or permit statues of human or animals. The sanctuary lamp, known by its Hebrew name, ‘ner tamid’ is usually translated as "eternal flame" or "eternal light". It hangs in front of the ark (where the Holy Scrolls are kept) in every synagogue. It signifies the lamp in the Temple in Jerusalem and symbolises the eternal presence of God, so is never extinguished. There is also the parallel between God and fire - or light - which features throughout the book of Exodus, the second of the Five Books of Moses and part of the Old Testament
2.
Prayers in the synagogue are conducted in ....
English
Hebrew
Latin
English and Hebrew
Prayer books for the Sabbath and Holy Days are written in Hebrew with English translation and follow a set order of service. Some passages are read out in English, for example, the blessing for the Royal Family (in the UK. It would be the President in, for example, the USA), and the prayer for the 'State' (the country in which the prayers are being recited), but all standard service prayers are in Hebrew
3.
The Bible (Old Testament) states that it is the custom for Jewish people to pray ....
once a day
three times a day
only on the Sabbath and Festival Holy Days
whenever it is convenient to do so
The Jewish custom is to pray three times a day, although only the most devout will adhere to this. The Bible stated that "Daniel went into his house; his windows were open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, and he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God." Prayer times, whether in synagogue or in private are usually early morning, afternoon and evening, although in winter, afternoon prayers often segue into evening prayers
4.
The ancient Jewish custom of answering "Amen" to prayers, which continues to this day and has long since been adopted by Christianity and also to a certain extent by Islam, came about ....
as a method of hiding one's cough during prayers
so that people could confirm to those in charge they were taking part in the prayers
so that people could confirm to those in charge they understood the passage just read out
a standard response to particular blessings
The word "amen" is derived from the Hebrew root meaning 'confirm', 'support' or 'establish' and dates back all the way to about the 7th century BC. The sages stated that not only had it even greater merit than he who says the blessing, but that if one said it correctly and with passion, ones days would be prolonged. It is usually only in response to someone else's blessing, not to one's own
5.
Prayers in the synagogue are ....
read silently by the congregant in page order from a book of prayer
decided on the day and handed to the congregant on a sheet of pre-reprinted paper
lead by a male 'reader'
issued in advance by a learned member through the offices of the Rabbi
There are formally laid out books of prayer, in Hebrew (with English translation on opposite pages for those who cannot read Hebrew) for the Sabbath and all Jewish festival services, the content of which is thousands of years old. All synagogue prayers are lead by a 'reader' who can also sing the relevant 'high order' passages as required. Jewish people are expected to follow and join the 'vocal' parts of the services when appropriate. The reader will sometimes indicate the relevant page number, as there are several printing houses who have permission to produce Jewish prayer books, and not all keep to the same pagination
6.
Judaism and Christianity, both monotheistic (belief in one God) religions share many beliefs. Which one of the following Jewish beliefs do they not share?
Ultimate reality - one God, Jehovah, the God of Abraham
Nature of God - unity, one substance, one person
The Old Testament - canonical (a 'rule' book)
Status of Biblical prophets - true prophets
Christianity believes in the Trinity, being one substance but three people - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Judaism there is only one
7.
When a Jewish male reaches 13 (female 12), they celebrate ....
their wedding
their Bar Mitzvah
their 1st Holy Communion
by leading prayers in the synagogue on a regular basis
According to Jewish law, when a Jewish boy reaches 13 years of age, he becomes responsible for his own actions relating to Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and become a bar mitzvah. A girl becomes bat (female of ‘bar’) mitzvah at the age of 12. Prior to this, the child's actions are the responsibility of their parents. After this age, the boys and girls are able to fully participate independently in all areas of Jewish community life
8.
When praying, it is customary for Jewish people to pray facing ....
North
South
East
West
Mizrah is the Hebrew word for "East" and this is the direction that Jews in the Diaspora (countries outside Israel) face during prayer. The reason that Jewish law prescribes that Jews face this direction during prayer is so as to be facing towards the site of the Temple in Jerusalem
9.
Which one of these is not a traditional Jewish blessing? (Bear in mind that very secular Jews will not recite these in the course of their daily lives - only the very religious adhere to their use)
Blessing for washing the hands
Blessing over bread
Blessing over wine
Blessing over sitting down
While some of the more important Jewish prayers are recited while standing (in honour of God to whom the blessings would refer directly), there is no actual prayer for sitting down
10.
When a male non-Jewish person visits the synagogue (for example, to attend the wedding of a Jewish friend) aside from wearing a head covering (hat or skullcap) which of the following are they expected to also do?
Where parts of the service are conducted standing, to stand
Where parts of the service include bowing, bow
If male, to wear a Jewish prayer shawl (the white, tassled "Tallit")
To join and recite any common prayers such as the 'Blessing for the Royal Family'
For those parts of the services which are recited standing, visitors are expected to stand together with the Jewish congregation. However, it is explicit that visitors should not have to undertake other traditional Jewish activities connected with Jewish prayer (for example the wearing of the male prayer shawl) that might be strictly Jewish, against their own religion, or cause them personal embarrassment and discomfort

 

Author:  Ed Moss

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