OU L.A. Conference Prepares Synagogue Prayer Leaders for the New Year

16 Aug 2007

Just days before the stirring melodies of the High Holy Days resonate throughout synagogues worldwide, the West Coast Region of the Orthodox Union will present a conference directed at “The Shliach Tzibur and the Entire Community,” to guide those who lead the synagogue services in the halachot (laws) of tefilla (prayer) and, at the same time, to help them and their congregations achieve the proper mindset before Rosh Hashanah.

The conference will be held Sunday, September 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at OU West Coast headquarters, 9831 West Pico Blvd., preceded by Shacharit at 8:00 a.m and continental breakfast. The event is free to members of OU synagogues and $18 for others.

Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday evening, September 12.

The shliach tzibur, also known as the ba’al tefilla, leads the service from the amud, a prominent and visible location in the sanctuary. The shliach tzibur may be a formally trained cantor (chazzan) on the staff of the synagogue or specially hired for the High Holy Days; or he may be selected from the congregation, blessed with a pleasing voice, but not necessarily the recipient of formal training.

Several men share in the role of shliach tzibur on Shabbat and the festivals, and of course, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, times at which the services are extended, and feature many prayers that are part of the liturgy only on those days.

Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University in New York and Halachic Consultant to the OU, will deliver a shiur (lecture) on many of the halachic aspects of being a good shliach tzibur. His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion, “How to Engage the Tzibur: Methods That Have Worked for Us.”

Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, Director of the OU West Coast Region, explained that the event is open not only to “chazzanim, ba’alei tefilla, and shlichei tzibur,” but “to anyone who enjoys a good, melodious and inspiring davening.” He expressed his appreciation to Rabbi Schachter for taking time from his busy schedule before the High Holy Days to come to Los Angeles to lead the program.

According to Alan Friedman, OU National Vice-President from the West Coast, “We have so many very qualified and talented chazzanim and baalei tefilla, and yet there are so many halachot that one needs to know in order to do the job well. A refresher course in the laws of tefilla is certainly warranted before the High Holy Days, the season when we spend so much time davening in shul.”

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, West Coast Director of Synagogue and Community Services, added, “This event follows on the heels of last year’s very successful Gabbai Conference, in which we held a conference for shul gabbaim (lay leaders who assist the in running of the synagogue service, for example, by distributing the aliyot for the Torah reading). We feel that the response will be at least as strong as last year’s standing room only attendance, as there are even more shlichei tzibur than there are gabbaim in every shul.”

“Given the complexity of the High Holy Day services, even veteran shlichei tzibur will be certain to benefit from this program,” Rabbi Korobkin said.
Participants in the panel discussion are also chairmen of the conference and prayer leaders in their OU congregations. They are Jay Braun of Beth Jacob, Beverly Hills; Dr. Mark Goldenberg, Young Israel of Century City; Robert Klein, Young Israel of Hancock Park; Jordan Lurie of Bnai David-Judea, Los Angeles; Dr. Steve Rothman of Young Israel of North Beverly Hills; and Rabbi Shmuel Schwartzmer of Shaarey Zedek, North Hollywood.

For further information, contact Rabbi Korobkin at 310-229-9000, ext. 205, or dkorobkin@ou.org. To register, contact Susie, at ext. 200, or westcoast@ou.org.