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Friday, September 22, 2017

Developing heartfelt tefillah that binds together the community is a process that requires ongoing reflection and commitment. Over the past few weeks Ma’ayanot was proud to unveil to its students and parent body a variety of new initiatives aimed at making tefillah as inspirational and powerful as possible for the students.

In response to student feedback that tefillah could be enhanced by davening in smaller groups, Ma’ayanot created a structure for the year through which each grade will have the opportunity, for a few months of the school year, to separately daven shacharit as a group. “We began with the ninth grade,” explained Ma’ayanot Principal Mrs. Rivka Kahan, “and we will rotate through the grades over the course of the year. We anticipate that the experience of davening together as a grade will create a more intimate and meaningful tefillah experience.”

A second exciting initiative is the introduction of an optional Friday minyan, facilitated by TABC students who will come weekly to help make this option possible. The first Friday minyan, which took place immediately after Sukkot, proved to be a popular option among Ma’ayanot students, and was, in Mrs. Kahan’s view, “a reverential and beautiful tefillah.”

Beyond the changes to the formal structure of tefillah, a student-led Tefillah Committee, headed by chairs Miriam Schloss (‘16) and Chava Segal (‘16) and advised by Tanakh teacher Mrs. Leah Herzog, has developed new educational programming about tefillah for the students. For example, the Committee arranged to have Rabbi Jay Goldmintz, Tanakh and Jewish History teacher at Ma’ayanot, kick off the year with a mishmar presentation about finding meaning within tefillah, and the Committee prepared and delivered a session on the same topic at a recent school-wide Yom Iyun. The Committee also plans to invite guest speakers over the course of the year to present ideas about tefillah to the student body, and they have prepared slideshows of inspiring images and quotations that will be regularly displayed at davening throughout the school year.

The approach of making numerous small but meaningful and sustained changes to school tefillah is based largely on the insight of Rabbi Jay Goldmintz, a veteran educator who has thought extensively about tefillah education and has authored numerous publications on the subject; his publications include articles on issues related to tefillah and adolescent religious development, a popular blog titled The Soul of Parenting, and most recently, the new Magerman Edition of the “Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur: A Siddur of Reflection, Connection and Learning.”