Keva and Kavanah: Ramah Campers Create Their Own Amidah Prayers

One of the greatest difficulties in Jewish prayer (tefillah) is that we are asked to recite words that were written over one thousand years ago, by people’s whose world and beliefs was far removed from ours and to do so in a language that we do not speak. Nevertheless, prayer is supposed to come from the heart — it is supposed to be the way that we approach God, meditate to ourselves, reflect on the great gifts we have been granted and express our wishes for the future. So how do we do this? In short, how do we have both keva (fixed prayers) and kavanah (intent)?

Last week in our Bet Midrash program, chanichim (campers) in Shoafim, Bogrim and Machon composed their own version of the middle blessings of the Amidah. The thoughtfulness that the chanichim put in to this project was truly inspiring. We learned the tefillot together, reflected on its meaning and how we could translate the original meaning into issues that we could relate to more directly.

I put these sources into a sheet that includes both the original Amidah (just the middle blessings) and the words that the chanichim themselves wrote.

Click here to read the wonderful t’fillot that the chanichim created.

I’m attaching it here for parents to look at, perhaps download and use for themselves and to share with others. I think this was an important project, one which helped make prayer more meaningful for me and for the chanichim as well. I’d be happy to hear any comments or feedback.

Joshua Kulp

Rosh Bet Midrash

Rosh Yeshiva, Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem