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The Family That Prays Together....

01/27/2021 11:06:02 AM


Chevre, (Friends),

Last year, just after the pandemic closed the doors to our sanctuary and building, I launched a Jr. Congregation experiment on Zoom. The purpose was to use the time and resources we had, as efficiently as possible, while also acclimating pre-B’nai Mitzvah students, who would most probably find themselves helping to lead services on Zoom for their respective Bar or Bat Mitzvah Shabbats. We continued meeting during the summer months, with admittedly less attendees on a Sunday morning in the summer!

Once Religious School started up again, we included Jr. Congregation as part of the Sunday morning Kitah Vav and Kitah Zayin activities. It has been a good training ground for individual students to sign up to learn and help lead one prayer, or one part of a prayer or blessing, while developing a level of comfort, at which point they move on to another prayer or blessing. It is an interactive environment and the students inspire each other as they see the improvement in each other’s abilities to read Hebrew from the siddur, to lead a particularly challenging set of blessings, or to lead some of the beginner level prayers.

Starting this Shabbat, January 30th, Jr. Congregation will be moving to most Saturdays from 1-1:45pm, (excluding each Shabbat that the Open Door Minyan meets.) We will meet on Zoom for a maximum of 45-minutes. Family members are welcome to join us, so that parents and children, older students and siblings, may learn together.

This is a “Shul Lab” of sorts, with students volunteering ahead of time on an Excel sign-up sheet, and/or volunteering in real time during the service. With the new day and time, we will be able to incorporate a little bit of Torah reading as well. This will give students and/or parents an opportunity to practice reciting the blessings before and after a Torah reading.  It will also give families a very basic sense of the flow of a Shabbat morning service. All of these items are part of an outreach to families, to help them develop a more holistic approach to Jewish practice.

This is the message I share with the fifth-grade parents every year, when we meet regarding their child’s upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation.

YOU are your child’s teacher. If you rarely attend prayer services and you expect your child to develop a comfort level in his/her Jewish prayer experience, then, your child is receiving a mixed message.  I believe this is a family-driven lesson. (See Deuteronomy 6 verses 4-9)

If you are lighting Shabbat candles and reciting some of the brachot (blessings), to welcome Shabbat on Friday nights, you are teaching the mitzvah of observing Shabbat. If you extend that to attending Friday night services from time to time, you are helping your child(ren) and yourself, learn some of the basic Hebrew prayers.

So, whether you are a 6th or 7th grader, a parent, a grand-parent, or a congregant who would like to have an introductory approach to the Shabbat morning prayer service, YOU ARE INVITED to join us on Zoom at 1pm for a family-friendly Junior Congregation/Learner’s service. I personally believe that the family that prays together stays together. Looking forward to sharing special moments with moms, dads, nanas, pop-pops, and of course, our amazing children!  Shabbat Shalom!

Wed, October 20 2021 14 Cheshvan 5782