Tag Archives: Orthodox Judiasm

Mediterranean Monday: Praying toward Jerusalem

dscf0834There is one thing that all Orthodox Jews have in common, no matter where they live in the word…..they pray facing Jerusalem. It doesn’t matter if its east from the US or south from Russia, it is always facing toward Jerusalem.  

I remember my first encounter with this was in the airport on my way to Israel, the first time.  The flight was soon after the 3rd prayer call (yes, there are 3 times a day for prayer), and all the Orthodox men were in one area, reading from their prayer books and facing……yep, EAST!  At the time I had no idea what that was about, but now I do.  

Even though there is currently no temple in Jerusalem (it was destroyed the 2nd time by the Roman Empire), a prayer for the construction of the 3rd temple is part of the daily prayers.  The temple acts as a figurative dwelling of God’s presence in the physical world, and since there is no physical temple, they pray toward the direction it was/will be. Those already in Jerusalem pray facing the Temple Mount.

What is also interesting is that all Bet Knesset’s (synagogues) also face toward Jerusalem.  The bet knesset is a type of substitute temple, which reminds the Jewish people of the incompleteness resulting in the destruction of The Temple. In each Bet Knesset there is an ark, with the Torah inside.  Even the ark must be situated in the direction of Jerusalem.

I could go on with more detailed information, but I think you got the jist of it.  One thing is for sure….the Orthodox better be good with directions!


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