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Worship: Prayer

The three religions all have a holy day of the week reserved for prayer and rest.

The Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) extends from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. The Christian holy day is Sunday, and the Islamic holy day Friday.

 

Judaism

Devout Jews pray three times a day: morning, afternoon and evening. Men cover their head with a skullcap (called a kippah, or yarmulke) when doing so. Two prayers are central: the Shema and the Amidah, originally a series of 18 blessings. During their morning prayers, men wear a prayer shawl (tallit) and some may wear phylacteries (tefillin), small boxes containing Biblical verses as a demonstration of piety. One is strapped to their forehead and one to their arm.

The Shabbat (Sabbath) is the Jewish day of rest, marking God's creation of the world and his day of rest. The celebration begins on the evening of the Sabbath (Friday night). Jewish families light candles at home, make blessings, and ceremonially partake of wine, bread and salt. They may also attend a synagogue service before or after the meal. The Sabbath morning (Saturday) service is usually the most well attended of the week as it features a reading from the Torah and the prayers contain an additional section (mussaf).

At the end of sunset that evening the Sabbath finishes. Blessings are made over wine, spices and candles. The entrance of a Jewish home or business is characterised by a 'mezuzah', a small box fixed to the doorpost containing extracts from the Torah.

 

Christianity

Typically Christians go to church once a week, on Sunday, the Christian day of rest. The central ceremony in Christian church life is the Eucharist or Holy Communion. The congregation lines up to receive a sip of wine and a wafer of bread. Catholics believe that during the service these turn into the blood and body of Jesus ('transubstantiation'). They sing hymns and hear readings from the Bible. The main service is called Mass in the Catholic church and the Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox church.

 

Islam

Muslims pray five times a day: at sunrise; just after midday; during the afternoon; shortly after sunset; and when it is dark. Usually praying is done at home, work or wherever the person happens to be, but communal praying in the mosque is encouraged, especially for men. Those praying prostrate themselves. A prayer mat may be used, and a special cap or head cover worn.

The only 'compulsory' attendance at the mosque is at midday on Fridays, when all adult male Muslims are expected to attend.

Hebrew prayerbook

Challah, a Sabbath tradition

Communion wine

Friday prayer, London Central Mosque