Due to an major oversight in its design the synagogue in my home town (London) is built with the Aron facing north west instead of east. A while ago I asked someone about this and they said that it was more important to face the Aron rather than Jerusalem but, of course, have Jerusalem in mind. Are there sources for this?

Also, another place I daven at has the aron facing north (again due to poor design). It has become the tradition of this place to daven facing east, with the aron on everyone's left hand side during shmoneh esrei. This means that those davening to the right of the aron have their backs towards the Aron. To complicate things further. The toilets are due east (and lead directly from the hall where davening occurs), which means that people pray towards the toilets rather than the Aron. Although clearly not an ideal situation, what is the ideal in this scenario? (The new Rav has seemingly adopted previous customs, and placing the aron next to the toilets is not an option).

  • A partial source is Mishna, Berakhot 4:5-6, which speaks of a person who cannot face Jerusalem at the moment of prayer, but who should direct his thoughts there instead.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 23:11
  • 1
    See Shulchan Aruch 94:1 Mishna Brurah 10
    – sam
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 23:23
  • 1
    This is not that unusual. The (now old) main Beith Midrash at Yeshiva University faces north, and looking around the room during Tefillah you basically have multiple orientations for prayer being adopted by various people. A similar situation exists at Yeshivat Har Etzion, which not only faces the wrong way centrally, but which is designed with rows facing different directions. Again, multiple orientations are employed by different people.
    – Seth J
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 23:58
  • The present daf yomi 55b does discuss this subject eleven lines from the bottom.
    – user2709
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 9:16


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