Talmud Shabbat (I think it's around p. 21a) says that the mitzvah of lighting candles is in one's home. I did not see any mention, there, of a requirement to light in the shul.
So, a few questions:
- When did lighting in the shul begin and why was this done?
- Is lighting candles in the shul an obligation, a minhag or a non-obligatory mitzvah (i.e., you're not required but you perform a mitzvah if you do.)
- In my shul, at night time, the say the blessings. OK, I understand that idea if one is obligated to light in the shul. If there is no obligation, then why make the blessings?
- The candles are lit for Shacharit, too, but there is no blessing. What's the purpose of lighting it for Shacharit?
- They don't light it before davening mincha, in my shul. I guess that's because they will light it after Ma'ariv. In being consistent with the reason that they light it for Shacharit, why not use this same reasoning, blow it out, say the blessings, then relight it for Ma'ariv with an extra candle for that night?