Tag: Prayer

Parashat Eikev Study Guide: Food or Famine? Up to Us?

Study Guide: Food or Famine? Up to Us?

The study guide for parashat Eikev explores the Shema and the mitzvot mandated by the sacred prayer, such as mezuzot and tefillin.

The Times of Day for Prayer

A Talmudic Midrash obligates prayer three times a day, instituted in honor of our three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Prayers and Practices of the Weekday Amidah

The Amidah is considered the central part of daily Jewish prayer, with minor variations in the text based on time of day, year and season.

The Interplay of Routine and Intention: Keva and Kavanah

Our prayers are almost always a mixture of both keva (oft-recited text) and kavanah (deeper layers of meaning).

What Prompts Change in Our Liturgy?

Changes in liturgy are born out of changes in the theological and historical life of a people, both the individual and the community.

Enhancing Prayer With Body Movement

Movement acts as part of prayer, orchestrated in traditional Jewish settings, thus putting us in touch with the ebb and flow of the liturgy.

Jewish Prayer Leaders

An individual, Rabbi, Cantor, or volunteer, skilled in singing and well-versed in Torah learning and liturgy, is appointed to lead prayers.

Creating a Sacred Physical Space

Halakhah demands that we invoke God’s name in prayer only in settings that are worthy of the sacred enterprise of prayer.

Why Prayer Matters

Tefillah is more than the sum of its parts and encompasses far more than the obligation to recite certain specific daily prayers.

The Language of Prayer

Jews are permitted to pray in any language and thus making our liturgy a link to Jews all around the world.

The Value of Using Set Prayers

By the use of set prayers, are we ipso facto guaranteeing that some will be obliged to recite words they do not find true or meaningful? 

Connecting with God Through Prayer

We hear from God through our participation in liturgical prayer, and also through the study of religious texts.

What is the Shema?

The Shema is the declaration of God’s uniqueness and unity that the Torah commands us to recite twice daily. 

Overview of the Evening Service

The Evening Service, called Ma’ariv (also called Arvit or spelled Maariv), is slightly longer than the Afternoon Service.

Overview of the Afternoon Service

The Afternoon Service, called Minḥah (or Mincha), is much shorter than the Morning Service and has no unique components. 

Overview of the Morning Service

Every day of the year, the Morning Service follows some variation of the order of the same Sharcharit prayers.

The First Prayers in the Morning Service

The prayers at the very beginning of the morning service help us to start our day with intention and gratitude.

What is a Kippah?

There is a wide range of specific customs related to the issue of covering the head, including what to cover it with.

What is a Tallit?

The tassels of the Tallit, called tzitzit (or tzitzis) in Hebrew, are explicitly intended to serve as a reminder of God’s commandments.

Mourning Practices for the Loss of a Parent

The period of mourning for one’s parents is a full twelve months, and serves a deeply therapeutic function for the mourner.


When Death is Imminent

Judaism does not recognize any gray area between life and death. Whenever possible, a dying person should not be left alone.

Yahrzeit: The Jewish Anniversary of Someone’s Death

Yahrzeit should be a day given over to remembering and honoring an individual for whom one once sat shivah and is learning to live without.

What is Yizkor?

Yizkor consists of a collection of readings and recitations revolving around two central prayers: Yizkor prayers, and the El Malei Rachamim.

Showered in Blessing

Showered in Blessing

Parashat Bechukotai consists of a litany of blessings and curses that will befall the Jewish people depending on whether or not we obey God.

What Does Jewish Law Say About Autopsies and Organ Donation?

The halakhah does not generally permit autopsies, due to honoring the dead. However, there are two important exceptions to that rule.

Floating candle

What is Shivah?

The word shivah refers to the seven days of mourning that follow the burial of a parent, child, sibling, or spouse.

Special Shabbats leading up to Purim and Passover

What are the Special Sabbaths Before Purim and Passover?

A series of special Shabbatot with special Torah readings precede Purim and Passover.

Megillah scroll celebrating Purim in Synagogue

Celebrating Purim in Synagogue

Tradition dictates that Purim be observed on the fourteenth day of Adar, and begins with the recitation of the regular evening service.

Life exists in relation

Life Exists in Relation

If we try to look past the tangible, if we focus on the other, in relationship, we can come to see the Divine, even if only for a second.

Tefillin: What, How, Who?

Tefillin: What, How, Who?

Tefillin, ritual black boxes used for prayer, are a powerful and physical way of connecting to God. Here’s how to do it.

Blessings and Bodies: Praying Without the Book

Blessings and Bodies: Praying Without the Book

Jewish spirituality doesn’t live in a book. Our bodies can guide our awareness and blessing. What could this practice look like in your life?

The Mystery of “Eyn Keloheinu”

The Mystery of “Eyn Keloheinu”

What is the mystery of Eyn Keloheinu? How do we unravel the contradiction that seems to be present within this prayer?

Parashat Shemot Haftarah: The Sound of Prayer

The Sound of Prayer

This week’s haftarah brings meaning to words without meaning—nonsense—and how to pray without understanding the literal meaning.

Liturgy on Ḥanukkah

Liturgical Changes on Hanukkah

Liturgy on Hanukkah includes Hallel and additions to the Amidah. There are also special Torah readings, maftirs, and haftarot.

Asher Yatzar My Favorite Blessing

Asher Yatsar: My Favorite Blessing

Our bodies are wonderful and wondrous. Asher Yatsar helps us recognize our physical selves and offers a moment of gratitude to The Creator.

A Spiritual Excercise

A Spiritual Excercise

After leaving his father’s home, Jacob dreams of God and experiences prayer for the first time. Learn about living in dialogue with God.

The Arba•ah Minim

The Arba·ah Minim

Besides dwelling in a sukkah, the other significant mitzvah of Sukkot is the taking up of the arba·ah minim, literally “the four species.”

Sukkot at Home

Sukkot at Home

While celebrating Sukkot at home, rituals include lighting candles, sitting in the sukkah, and customs related to the sukkah.

Intermediate Days of Sukkot

Intermediate Days of Sukkot

The intermediate days of Sukkot, the weekdays, combine some features of festival days and normal weekdays to create wholly unique day.

Sh'mini Atzeret

Sh’mini Atzeret

The final two days of Sukkot are a totally separate holiday called Sh’mini Atzeret. Liturgy includes Yizkor and the prayer for rain.

Simḥat Torah

Simḥat Torah

Simḥat Torah means “the joy of Torah” and is the name for the day on which the annual cycle of Torah readings begins and ends.

Sukkot Candle Lighting

Sukkot Candle Lighting

The laws for lighting candles on Sukkot are almost identical to the laws for Shabbat candle lighting, with the exception of covering eyes.



Ne’ilah is an additional service, recited only at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. It signifies the sealing of the Book of Life.

Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minhah, the Afternoon Service, begins with the Torah service, including selections from Leviticus and the haftarah on the Book of Jonah.

Yom Kippur Musaf Service

Yom Kippur Musaf Service

The Yom Kippur Musaf Service includes two services: the Avodah service and the Martyrology service. Musaf follows Yizkor and Torah reading.

Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Following the Yom Kippur meal, candles are lit in a similar fashion to those lit on Rosh Hashanah. A Yizkor candle is also lit.

Yom Kippur Evening Service

Yom Kippur Evening Service

Maariv, the evening service, following Kol Nidrei on Erev Yom Kippur, is similar in many ways to daily Maariv but has notable differences.

Yom Kippur Morning Services

Yom Kippur Morning Services

The Yom Kippur morning service is similar to Rosh Hashanah, with the exception of the Amidah and the selections for the Torah service.

Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Preparations on Erev Yom Kippur are intrinsic to the awe-inspiring observance of the day: a special meal, candle lighting, and charity.

Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Yom Kippur begins with the dramatic Kol Nidrei service, intended to annul vows made between yourself and God.

Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

The Memorial Service, Yizkor, is recited on Yom Kippur, one of four times throughout the year, to remember loved ones and Jewish martyrs.

Rosh Hashanah Musaf Service

Rosh Hashanah Musaf Service

The Musaf Service for Rosh Hashanah contains familiar opening and closing blessings of the Amidah with the usual High Holiday interpolations.

The Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

The Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

Sounding of the shofar is a characteristic mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah. The holiday is alternatively called the Day of Sounding the Shofar. 

Rosh Hashanah Synagogue Services

Rosh Hashanah Synagogue Services

For most people, Rosh Hashanah means a lot of time spent praying in the synagogue. These are the complex explanations behind those prayers.

What are selichot?

What are Selichot?

Selichot are special prayers recited in anticipation of the High Holidays introducing us to the themes of the upcoming holidays.

Rituals and Prayers Recited in the Month of Elul

Rituals and Prayers Recited in Elul

The ritual preparations for the High Holidays begin a full month in advance with the onset of the month of Elul.

Seliḥot: What do we recite?

Seliḥot: What do we recite?

Seliḥot, a series of penitential prayers, are recited in anticipation of Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Repentance. Here’s what to recite.

Prayer Expresses Petition, Praise, Anger, and History

Prayer Expresses Petition, Praise, Anger, and History

Prayer is not just a recitation of words. But rather, prayer is an expression of a great many modes and experiences in Judaism.

aT'fillah/Prayer: A Mitzvah to Take a "Time Out"

T’fillah/Prayer: A Mitzvah to Take a “Time Out”

T’fillah, Jewish prayer, is rooted in self-judgment, reflection, and connecting to something greater than ourselves.

What is Tahanun?

What is Tahanun?

Tahanun is the name for a series of penitential prayers that follow the Amidah during the Morning and Afternoon Services.

Shabbat Morning Services: What to Expect

Shabbat Morning Services: What to Expect

We thank God, spend time in community, sing heartily, read holy texts, and revel in rest. What can I expect at a Shabbat morning service?

What do I do on a long Shabbat Afternoon?

What do I do on a long Shabbat Afternoon?

Long Shabbat afternoons can be intimidating, here’s how Rabbi Sydni Rubinstein spends her time and why it’s her favorite time all week.

darkened image of a sunset with the words The Shabbat Afternoon Service

The Shabbat Afternoon Service

The Minhah Service on Saturday Shabbat afternoon contains a number of significant additions to the weekday Afternoon Service.

Image of a Torah scroll with the words The Saturday Morning Shabbat Service

The Saturday Morning Shabbat Service

How is the Saturday morning Shabbat service constructed? What prayers are included? Check out our overview on Shabbat morning services.

blurry image of a book with the words The Sunflower on Our Seder Table

The Sunflower on Our Seder Table

The Sunflower on Our Seder Table by Rabbi Ilana Garber on behalf of the people in Ukraine in 2022.

blurry image of a book with the words All Who Are Hungry: A Prayer for Action, A Prayer for Ukraine

All Who Are Hungry: A Prayer for Action, A Prayer for Ukraine

All Who Are Hungry: A Prayer for Action, A Prayer for Ukraine by Rabbi Mark Greenspan on behalf of the people in Ukraine in 2022.

blurry image of a book with the words Dedication for First Cup of Wine

Dedication for First Cup of Wine

Dedication for the First Cup of Wine at the Passover Seder by Rabbi Martin S. Cohen on behalf of the people in Ukraine in 2022.