The Shema prayer, as translated into English, reads: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." This is followed by a whispered statement: "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever," and continues with a portion of scripture.
The Shema is the statement of faith for the Jewish religion. It is found in the Jewish and Christian scriptures at Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Its importance to the Jewish community is paramount, as it is part of the daily affirmation of faith demanded by strict observance.
Within the structure of the Shema, there are instructions as to the timings of the prayer, which should be said both morning and evening and to the mindset of the person praying. While the Shema is intended to be a part of a larger set of morning and evening prayers, Jewish people who wish to follow their faith fully should say the Shema even if they do not intend to perform the full set of prayers.
The first sentence of the Shema should be said with the right hand covering the eyes to block out external influences. This is also why the first sentence should always be said aloud. The rest of the prayers in a set can be said aloud or read silently, as the devotee prefers.