Every Thursday night during the summer, a New York rest stop is transformed from a spot to pick up coffee and snacks to a place of Jewish worship, according to a USA Today report.
For close to twenty years, the New York State Thruway Authority has allowed Jews to hold afternoon and evening prayers at the Sloatsburg travel plaza along the northbound Thruway, past Exit 15A.
The praying area, located on the top level of the rest area's two-story parking garage is affectionately known as the "prayer stop" or the "meeting area."
The Thursday night prayers came about largely because many Orthodox men who work during the week make the trip up to the Catskills Thursday evening to spend the weekend with their wives and children vacationing in the upstate New York resort for the summer.
Rabbi Joel Friedman of Williamsburg in Brooklyn told USA Today the Sloatsburg rest stop is well-known among religious Jews in New York City.
The New York rabbi spends every Thursday during the summer supervising prayers from 4 P.M. until midnight. As liaison to the Thruway Authority, he makes sure worshippers pray in the designated location and people don’t hold up traffic.
Friedman said that as many as 300 Jews say their afternoon (mincha) and night (maariv) prayers there each Thursday, adding that the busiest time is between 9:30 and 11 P.M., when up to 70 men in small groups pray together.
"They stop for one prayer before sundown, and they wait a few minutes so they can (say) another prayer after sundown," he said.
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