by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
Religious Jews have 3 prayer services per day. It is strongly preferable for these services to be performed with a prayer quorum, at least 10 men. (This is known as avodah Hashem, divine service by the Jew.)
For the morning service, everyone will run to synagogue. Being synagogues are usually close by in religious Jewish communities, this is just a run down the street. Similarly for the evening service, which is held after nightfall.
But the afternoon service, held anytime between noon and sundown…people tend to be at work or in the store. (For those learning in yeshiva, they clearly don’t have a problem rounding up a prayer quorum.)
The solution to this is the afternoon prayer group. In most areas where there is a concentration of religious Jewish workers, the workers arrange a location to meet every afternoon for a 15 minute afternoon prayer service.
Recently in Israel I’ve been noticing taking this to an extreme. Some large businesses, malls, or stores have build in-store synagogues! So if, while checking out some furniture at Ikea or the pears in the grocery store, the moment of afternoon prayer arrives or a sudden urge to say some Psalms hits…a synagogue is at your convenience.
Pictured above and below is an in-store synagogue at a warehouse grocery store. One factor of this type of synagogue is it being placed in unused and inconvenient space for the business, leading to a somewhat oddly shaped synagogue space. But that’s cool, the employees and customers get an additional service or convenience for shopping or working there, and the business can provide it out of space that otherwise would be unused.
A win-win spiritual win.
So the next time you’re in a store in a Jewish area and you hear “prayer on aisle 3” or “mincha (afternoon service) in the store synagogue”, now you know.
(Photos – in-store synagogue at a warehouse grocery store chain in Israel.)