I grew up attending Temple BethEl in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Worship was a group activity. We recited the liturgy together, sometimes in response to the rabbi.
Communal worship binds Jews together. Parts of the liturgy, such as the Kedusha and Kaddish, may be recited only in a minyan, a gathering of ten adult Jews.
For some of us with disabilities, praying with a community is difficult. The synagogue may be inaccessible. Individuals who process verbal and written language differently from the “average congregant” might struggle to find and maintain their place in the prayerbook, keep pace with other worshippers, and switch between Hebrew and English.
At the request of the king, prayers for rain were held at synagogues throughout Morocco.
The prayers were recited on Saturday, one day after Muslims said similar prayers in mosques at the request of King Mohammed VI, the Moroccan daily Le Matin reported. The king made the request upon learning that Morocco may suffer a drought this year.
There was undoubtedly more texting in shul this Rosh Hashanah than in past years. In most liberal congregations, texting was likely done as discreetly as possible, often with a cellphone hidden low in one's lap. In some congregations it might have been more overtly outside in the lobby or perhaps outside the synagogue building.
New collection of essays shows how interpretation
can be used to find new meaning in the biblical text —
and as a resource for healing.
Jewish Week Book Critic
I n shuls everywhere, of all denominations, the “Mi Sheberach” prayer is said regularly, naming individuals in need of healing. The prayer itself and the way it is said may differ from one community to the next. The late Debbie Friedman, for instance, set the words to music that is widely known and sung. Some people approach the bima with “long lists of names inside their hearts,” while others have handwritten lists in their pockets, Rabbi Julie Pelc Adler, explains in an essay, “A Midrash on the Mi Sheberakh.”
Maybe it’s the high heels. Maybe it’s the sky-high spirits. Maybe it’s the smile hinting ever so slightly of mischief. But when I meet Rochelle Shoretz at a downtown Starbucks on a recent bright September day, I’m surprised.
When it comes to Jewish prayer, there are two schools of thought: keva and kavannah. Keva means "rote" and refers to the fixed prayers that are set forth in the siddur (Jewish prayer book), while kavvanah is the free and spontaneous inner devotion of the individual.
Formal prayer, that musical and lyrical intersection between this world and the other, is as much science as art, as least for the cantor. There are rules, equations, let alone laws, but “most people don’t know how to daven anymore,” says Sherwood Goffin, “or they don’t know how to daven properly.”
That’s true even among the Orthodox, perhaps particularly among the Orthodox, whose synagogues are increasingly disinclined to hire professionally trained cantors — chazanim, or baalei tefillah, “masters of prayer.”
When a couple in his congregation told Rabbi Gordon Freeman of their infertility and asked for spiritual help, the rabbi confessed that he had not realized all of the ramifications.
“They said they wanted to deal with it in a ritual manner,” recalled the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek, Calif. “They wanted to know how our tradition could help them deal with it. They had already gone to therapists.”