We’ve been doing a lot of amazing programming in our Tefilot / morning services this session. Last Friday, we prayed in the Amphitheater on Tzad Aleph and talked about how the natural world connects to our sense of spirituality and closeness with God. We talked about how it was different to pray outside than to pray inside, and we learned about the phrase from Tefilot “hamechadesh bchol yom tamid maaseh breisheet” that God is the one who renews each day continuously works of creation. What does it mean to be renewed?
For the past several days, we’ve also been hearing divrei Tefilah / explanations of the prayers about each of the blessings of the Amidah, the standing prayer. The first three blessings are in the category of Shevah/Praise, and have the themes of Ancestors, God’s Power, and Holiness respectively. Ilanot learned something about each of those themes, and now has moved on to the middle blessings of the Amidah, which are in the category of Bakasha/Request. We’ve talked about mindfulness and wisdom, about repentance and teshuva, and about forgiveness and saying sorry. As we learn about each new blessing of the Amidah, we say the prayer out loud up to that blessing, which helps everyone learn the words.
On our Yom Meyuchad on Tuesday, we also incorporated a South East Asian form of worship similar to Tai Chi into our service. Our Ilanot Body Prayer took themes from Psukei Dzimra / Psalms of Praise (the warm up to the morning service) such as praising God with our whole spirit (from Psalm 150– Kol Haneshamah t’Hallel Ya) and gratitude (found in the Modeh Ani), and instead of singing those prayers as we usually do, we did a movement with our body that expressed that same idea. Each movement was done slowly, with a focus on our breath, inhaling and exhaling, and was repeated around 30 times. We punctuated the Body Prayer with sound of a gong between each motion. After 30 repetitions of each of our 7 motions of praise and thanksgiving, we continued with the Barchu and the rest of our service as usual.
Our Tefilot have been education, spiritual, meaningful, and fun!