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CHAPTER 76 Worship THINGS TO THINK ABOUT In the Bible, worship was a central feature of the Jewish faith. From the time of the patriarchs, Jews prayed for God to sustain them in their tribulations. The patriarchs, Moses and the prophets offered God personal prayers, and the Temple served as the framework for cultic service. There – twice daily – the priests offered prescribed sacriﬁces while the Levites chanted psalms. Then the evening fats were burned. On Sabbaths and festivals additional services were added to this daily ritual. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the synagogue took the place of the Temple; there Jews continued to worship God. The morning service (shaharit) and afternoon prayer (minhah) correspond with the daily and afternoon sacriﬁce; evening prayer (maariv) parallels the nightly burning of fats. By the sixth century, the essential features of synagogue worship were established. In the eighth century the ﬁrst prayer book was composed by Amram, Gaon of Sura. The synagogue service follows an established pattern, featuring the Shema and the Amidah. From earliest times, the Torah was read at public gatherings; subsequently regular readings of the Torah took place on Sabbaths and festivals. Today the yearly Torah cycle is followed, and the pattern of worship is largely unchanged in Orthodox synagogues. In Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic synagogues, however, various alternations have been made to the liturgy. Several traditional prayers and readings have been eliminated, and new prayers substituted. Some of these new liturgies, particularly in Humanistic synagogues, are radically different from the traditional order of service. Surveying the history of worship in Judaism, you should ask yourself whether such liturgical revision is justiﬁed? Are the Orthodox right to retain the traditional elements of the worship service? Or should changes be made to modernize the liturgy, making it relevant to the spiritual needs of contemporary Jews? Have some movements gone too far in changing the nature of Jewish prayer? THINGS TO DO • If possible, attend a Sabbath service at either an Orthodox or non-Orthodox synagogue. • Make a list of the major changes that each nonOrthodox movement has made to the traditional liturgy. You will need to look at relevant websites on the Internet for information. • Write a letter to a Humanistic rabbi discussing the question whether Humanistic Judaism has gone too far in eliminating the word ‘God’ from the liturgy. • Go to Google.com and look for websites dealing with worship such as http://library.thinkquest.org. TIPS FOR TEACHERS • If possible, take your class to a worship service at an Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist or Humanistic synagogue. • Go to Google.com. Click on images. Look for websites dealing with Jewish worship. Make a powerpoint presentation. • Invite a rabbi to speak to your class about the nature of Jewish worship. 146 PART II: BELIEF AND PRACTICE • Ask your students to compare the Temple service with the synagogue liturgy. They will ﬁnd information about this topic on the Internet. • Play a recording of synagogue music to your class.