As part of its national tefillah (prayer) enrichment initiative, the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community Services presents a communal program to help inspire and develop a more meaningful experience in personal and communal prayer. “Making Our Tefillot More Meaningful and Personal” is the title of this communal program which will be held in conjunction with Kingsway Jewish Center at its synagogue in Brooklyn on Monday Evening, February 22, from 8:00-10:00 p.m. This program is open to both men and women in the community, and is free of charge. Rabbi Eitan Tokayer, spiritual leader of Kingsway Jewish Center, will introduce the program.
Speakers at the event include Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, of Congregation Bais Yitzchok; Rabbi Eli Monsour, of Congregation Bet Yaakob, who also spoke at the first program held in Woodmere; and Rabbi Aharon Kahn, of Knesseth Bais Avigdor and Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivat R. Yitzchak Elchonon. All of the presenters have congregations housed in Brooklyn and are highly respected within the Orthodox Jewish Community.
This communal symposium is the second in the series of inspirational seminars devoted to tefillah which will be taking place in the Greater New York Area. The first tefillah program was held on Sunday, December 6 in Woodmere, with an overflowing audience in attendance.
Frank Buchweitz, National Director of Community Services and Special Projects, who is spearheading the national tefillah initiative, stated that, “At the heart of all relationships is the ability to communicate, and the relationship between man and God is a most important relationship to cultivate. Relationships containing honest and heartfelt communication are positive as well as meaningful. The Tefillah Initiative of the Orthodox Union has as one of its many goals a desire to strengthen an individual’s personal communication with God through meaningful prayers. Understanding what we say and how we say our tefillot are most essential for proper communication. Developing a greater understanding of prayer leads to a more significant personal dialogue and relationship with our Creator.”
After attending the program in Woodmere, Rachael Goldberg, a student at Stern College for Women, wrote, “Listening to three insightful presentations on prayer and witnessing the passion and commitment demonstrated by such a strong turnout at a Sunday morning symposium, I felt renewed, relieved, hopeful, and encouraged—eager to embrace and promote the attitude that tefillah is an opportunity; it is the Jewish people’s most powerful tool on an individual and collective level; not burdensome, but empowering. One attendee told me that he often contemplates the idea of ‘being God’s child’ as a premise to meaningful prayer and reflection about its magnitude.”
The tefillah enrichment initiative offers a wide range of options. The program offers weekly one-page tefillah tips for distribution on Shabbat or before Shabbat via e-mail. They have been prepared by Rabbi Ephraim Epstein of Congregation Sons of Israel in Cherry Hill, NJ and can be found on www.oucommunity.org. An eleven-week semester has just concluded focusing on the Mussaf prayer of Shabbat and during the week of February 13, a new eleven-week semester begins of downloadable, one-page tips focusing on Kabbalat Shabbat, Friday Night Prayer.
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.”
A video and audio enhancement of the tefillah tips, “Take Five for Tefillah,” is available for download or live streaming on Mondays and Thursdays.
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 are encouraged to dedicate a few minutes every Shabbat Mevarchim (Shabbat welcoming the new month) emphasizing an aspect of tefillah of their choice.
The Tefillah Enrichment Program is developing a series of full-color posters for display on aspects of tefillah which will be shortly available for communal synagogues.
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.
For more information or to find out how to bring this event to your community, contact Frank Buchweitz at 212-613-8188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.