"It would be better to pray in a mosque and do so with meaning and after the sun rises, rather than at home, at dawn or at the airport and without meaning," Rabbi Baruch Efrati determined recently in a response posted on the Kipa website recently.
The surprising ruling came in response to a question posed by a web surfer living abroad who travels frequently for work purposes: "Most of the time the flights leave very early in the morning. I manage to put on tefilin at home after daybreak, but I don't have time to wait until I can complete morning prayers," he stated.
"On the other hand, if I pray at the airport – I feel extremely uncomfortable, because people stare and I find it hard to focus on my prayers."
He wished to know how to act – and Rabbi Efrati had a surprising response: "Some airports in Europe and Asia have mosques, and they are usually empty of people who are not praying and so it is quiet," he noted and suggested that the traveler inquire at the airport.
"Of course, this solution isn't perfect," the rabbi added, "but it is the best option. There is no prohibition on praying in mosques (apart for the Ran's - Rabbi Nissim ben Reuven ruling, which was not accepted)."
Rabbi Efrati noted that an example was the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, which has a mosque.
Either way, the rabbi ruled that if the traveler has trouble praying with meaning in the airport – he shouldn't pray there. In addition, he stressed that praying in churches was completely and strictly forbidden. In fact, it is forbidden to step into a church, he said.