Despite the conveniences of modern technology, our assortment of gadgets and gizmos often robs hours from our day and serves as the ultimate distraction. With e-mail and text messages constantly flooding one’s phone and computer, how could one possibly devote the proper concentration to any task, especially tefillah (prayer)? With this in mind, the Orthodox Union is utilizing technology for the best purposes by launching the Tefillah Enrichment Program for the upcoming year. This program, which features many online resources, aims to inspire both rabbanim (rabbis) and synagogue members to achieve a greater appreciation for and participation in tefillah (prayer). The Tefillah Enrichment Program is designed for a two semester per year curriculum and offers a wide range of options.
Frank Buchweitz, National Director of Community Services, emphasized that “developing a greater understanding of prayer leads to a more meaningful and personal relationship with our Creator.”
For starters, this program of the OU Department of Community Services, offers weekly one-page tefillah tips for distribution on Shabbat or before Shabbat via e-mail. The tips focus mainly on the Mussaf prayer and will be available beginning with Parshat Bereshis for 11 consecutive weeks. Information about Kabbalat Shabbat will also be included, beginning in January. Individuals may sign-up for these FREE tefillah tips on www.oucommunity.org.
E-mail program components also include a subscription series, which features educational resource material. Such material has been available since January through a paid weekly e-mail subscription. There are a total of 67 lessons presented in conjunction with the Shema Yisrael Torah Network, which provides a spiral approach of graduated learning. The material received via subscription may be utilized for personal study, a class on Tefillah, or even for a brief discussion in shul on Friday night before “Borchu.”
To assist those participants who prefer auditory learning, a program called “Take Five for Tefillah,” will include audio files about inyanei tefillah (“topics about prayer”), available for download or live streaming. This will be available on Mondays and Thursdays on OU Radio, beginning with Parshat Bereshis.
OU Radio also features presentations about tefillah by Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President Emeritus of the Orthodox Union. In his presentations, Rabbi Weinreb discusses numerous sources, including the commentaries of Rabbanim Hirsch, Munk, and Schwab. Rabbi Weinreb also offers insights based on Chassidic sources.
To facilitate the success of the Tefillah Enrichment Program, rabbanim (rabbis) are encouraged to dedicate a few minutes every Shabbat Mevarchim emphasizing an aspect of tefillah of their choice. On their website, the OU will list participating synagogues in the Shabbat Mevarchim effort during the year. Rabbanim can also utilize the information from the previously mentioned subscription series as a curriculum for tefillah education.
Marei Mekomot of tefillah (“sources on prayer”) are also available for rabbanim based upon the teachings of Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, providing a compilation of source materials to many tefillot.
The Tefillah Enrichment Program will also offer a series of full-color posters for display on aspects of tefillah.
All of the material provided through the Tefillah Enrichment Program is designed to teach the public about our most common tefillot that are often unexplained, and to inspire increased spirituality in our prayers. During the year, tefillah conferences will be held in several communities together with Yeshiva University to reinforce the initiative. Inspirational speakers are also available upon request. For further information about hosting a conference or a speaker, please contact the Orthodox Union at 212-613-3188, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the OU Communities website at www.oucommunity.org.