• 28 JANUARY, 2020
House of Prayer: A Place to Worship and Gain Intellectual Wisdom

Synagogues or House of Prayers are places of worship for Jews, but they are also places of study and community centers. Sometimes, these synagogues also offer charitable assistance to neighbors or private donations. Instead of praying at home, the religious community go to synagogue for praying and reading scriptures. Every community builds its own House of Prayer to serve as a place of prayer, reading of the Tanakh, the entire Hebrew Bible, including the Torah. In worship services, the learned people assemble, study, and understand the Scriptures.

The House of Prayers created by The Nazareth House followed an extraordinary experience since it was visited by a dignified scholar Azach of Zippori. The book, I Am Only Mary provides details of holy places including church, House of Prayer, and other religious institutions. By reading the book, we learn that The House of Prayers of Nazareth had spiritual significance, it was used for Sabbath worship, and devotees spend their time studying the Torah, and getting involved with child education and other community programs.

Thomas Atzberger, the author of this religious book explains the historical significance. A modest temple existed in Nazareth at that time. A mosaic in the basilica dates to the fifth century and bears an inscription in Greek that means “Conon, deacon of Jerusalem.” Nazareth’s House of Prayer dates to the Babylonian captivity and for centuries it was considered a spiritual place where pilgrims and believers demonstrate their devotion through worship and praying. Due to its historical importance, the construction of the synagogue was built with strong materials that keep the building safe from warfare. The design of this House is amazing for the readers. The painting inside the House reminds us of the great events of Israel’s history. The painting of an open flower between two Paschal lambs, leaves and grapes, a bowl of manna with Aaron’s rod are all inspiring for the religious community. Furthermore, scholars and spiritual leaders who wish to visit the House of Prayers to enlighten themselves feel inspired to see the beautiful Ark decorated with sparkling curtains outside the Ark doors. This reflects the constant light, the lit menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Scholars, philosophers and community people would gather at the Ark, they read and understand scriptures including Torah. The religious scholars also give sermons that are widely listened to by community people.

By reading the book, we further learned about the structure of this synagogue that portray its peculiarity and uniqueness. There is room for artistic creativity from one community to the next. The artistic work avoids idolatry in their paintings and sculptures, instead, they choose to use general natural objects and symbols such as the interlaced triangles, the Lion of Judah, flowers, and fruits. This holy place comprised the main sanctuary for prayer and smaller study rooms. Rooms set aside for study are referred to as beth midrash. According to Jewish tradition and community people, The House of Prayer should be operated by ten men of leisure, batlanim, or volunteers who would devote their time to the House of Prayer in religious, education and community services. They also established essential rules to set a decorum of peace, harmony, and serenity at the House of Prayers. Therefore, the believers were commanded to pay serious attention to keep respectful behavior while they are engaged in worship. This implies them to abide by the rules such as avoiding joking, laughter, eating, talking, putting on or removing coats and avoiding immoral acts.

To make the religious, community and voluntary activities more effective and useful at the house of prayers, money was donated by Samaritans and volunteers of the community. They aim that the synagogues can be converted into an academy where children and adults can acquire religious education. They also gain a spiritual knowledge of the holy books, pray, worship, and read their scriptures.

This religious fiction is written in a fascinating, highly original prose meditation that explores the culture of the times during the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. It portrays how community people and holy visitors pay homage to holy buildings and try to keep their sanctity by exhibiting pious and virtuous acts. They follow sacred rituals, and family Holy Day gatherings showing spiritual fervor and high spirits. This book is available on different online platforms for the readers to enlighten their minds with light of truth, knowledge, and wisdom.

I Am Only Mary is a book that can be read by people of any faith, who have a deep interest in Mary, the mother of Jesus. The book helps the readers to know Mary as a fellow Christian, emphasizing her humanity and her virtuous living of the call God gave to her. The probable details of Mary's biography are rarely available to the readers. Therefore, this little history of her actual life brings her close to us.