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PREFACE: WHAT THIS BOOK IS NOT

 

This is not an all inclusive Halachic guidebook to prayer. The aim of this book is to give the reader a basic familiarity with the synagogue service and with the movements and actions associated with Jewish prayer. The directives, guidelines, instructions, advice and information contained in this book are intended for the newcomer to the synagogue. Please do not infer matters of Jewish law from the ideas in this book. The diversity of prayer rituals between communities (Ashkenazic, Chassidic, Sefardic, etc.) and between those living in Israel and the Diaspora, as well as the factors affecting an individual’s situation or predicament, may require further investigation. The dynamics in each case demand that questions of halachah (Jewish law) be directed to proper rabbinic authorities. Minhagim (customs) vary widely. As such any practice suggested in this volume may differ from the one used in your synagogue.  It is suggested that you follow the traditions and procedures of your fellow congregants. This is also not a commentary on the prayer book. It is a primer to assist the beginner who will almost certainly have questions about prayer postures, gestures and positions, when to stand, when to sit, when and how to bow, when it is permitted to speak, communal versus private prayer and more. These are questions not about the meaning of prayer, but about the mechanics of prayer. Hopefully this book will not only answer such questions but will ease entry into synagogue life and enable more active participation in the daily and Shabbat minyan.