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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 9.18:
What is the importance of collective worship in Judaism?


Collective worship is critical in Judaism. There are actually two notions behind gathering to pray:

  1. One is praying as an individual, where the others provide an environment more condusive to that prayer. This factor was even more critical before the printing press, when many people also relied on the cantor to provide the words.

  2. The second is praying as a community. Not merely as a group of individuals within a community, but the community's prayer to God. After all, the covenant at Sinai (or, for non-Jews, the covenant God made with Noah as he left the ark) was with the community as a collective unit. There is a sanctity to the community that exceeds the sum of its parts.

In both issues, the communal prayer is superlative over praying alone. Of course, other factors come into play. Someone broken-heartedly praying outside their child's hospital room, speaking to God from the core of their being is still the superior prayer over one who might feel confined from fully expressing themselves in public.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>