I am so fortunate to have been able to spend my Shabbat (and beyond) at the #koltefila, conference on Jewish prayer innovation. Kol Hakavod to my dear friends, rabbis and colleagues Rabbis Rebecca Schatz, Hillary Chorny, Adam Kligfeld and Cantor Michelle Stone along with the awesome teamwork of USCJ Rachel Sisk,and R' Joshua Rabin for crafting such a successful and meaningful experience for so many communities.
A few thoughts: Prayer is vital to the Jewish people. And because so, it is my personal belief that this means we must regularly evaluate the practice, our relationship to it, and attempt to ensure it achieves its goal: to call upon the Divine, the God of our ancestors, with praise and plea, which reaffirms our faith.
Unfortunately, there are many layers within the Jewish prayer experience which can lead many to feel confused, uncertain and outside of the experience, rather than deep inside of it, letting the prayer work its magic. This is why I fully preach that the angel we need to embrace is the Kavvanah to Keva model (intention giving to enhance the recitation of the text), over our inherited custom, which is Keva to Kavvanah (full literacy of the text before one is able to be intentional when reciting it). This way, when we recite (or chant as we do in my community at Na’or @ Mishkon) we are focusing on allowing that prayer to do its job - connecting us to the need the prayer is calling forth.
One of our most beloved ravs, Rabbi Elliot Dorff teaches that every prayer in our siddur speaks to a true human need. Yet, with a current custom of speed reading from box to box, we can all too easily miss what they are. I believe one of the greatest gifts a prayer leader can bring to their community is to invite them into prayer that can elevate, invigorate, touch us in our deep places, and lift us out of them.
I thank you, Kol Tefilla community for allowing me to show you what I/we do at Na'or, and joining us yesterday morning. That prayer service was so real that I can still feel it in my soul. I have so much appreciation for all the presenters you brought so much wisdom and inspiration! And thank you Nava Tehila for your incredible gifts of soulful leadership, authentic prayer and true connection to Great Spirit. You added so much to our weekend, and we are blessed because of you!


Art: Orit Martin, Passing Beyond