Customs and Rituals

What kinds of rituals do Jews engage in privately or alone?

Home remains the principal place for Jewish prayer and religious observance. Traditional prayer includes the thrice-daily Amidah (“standing”) prayer in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The morning and evening prayers begin with benedictions that praise God’s love of Israel as manifested in the creation of light and in the ordering of day and night. The Shema follows, acknowledging God’s unity and redemption of the people. At the center of all three prayers is the Shimoneh Esreh, or “Eighteen” blessings (which is actually made up of nineteen blessings, one being added later). Prayer ends with the Aleinu, “Upon us praise is encumbent….” Afternoon prayer usually adds Psalm 145. According to the Talmud, all Jews should pray a hundred benedictions (berakhot) every day, in recognition of all things enjoyable, to give thanks, and prior to all other religious duties, in addition to the blessings that are part of daily prayers.


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