Tefillah

as a service

Welcome!

Thank you for helping to guide our community in prayer. Prayer is one of the hardest things a Jew is ever asked to do. We struggle to find the words to say, the methods to use, to express our gratitude for the wonder of our own existence.

But there is one other very important matter that we often struggle to remember and express: Prayer is not only about God. Prayer is about us. Prayer is about awareness. Prayer opens us up to ourselves, to our community, and to the world around us. Prayer allows us to connect with our own souls and the souls of those dear to us. Prayer lets us get outside of our own heads and our own experiences to see the world around us and our unique place in it. Prayer has the capacity to change us, to inspire us and to ready us for the day ahead, but only if we allow it to do so, and have the right tools at our disposal to help us get there. Jews have been gathering together to pray for thousands of years, and, in one of the greatest examples of continuity in history, have been consistently using almost the same selections of texts for that entire period. These set texts have allowed Jews to pray even at times and in places where Jews were not even literate. 

In prayer, God is the same before and after. Whatever you believe about the Divine, prayer probably will not change that. But what you believe about yourself can change. What and how you feel can change. How you relate to the world around you can change. This site is designed to help you do just that.

To read more, click “ON PRAYER” below.

 

Karaoke Tefillah

20 Minute Service: Light

Praylist:

Modeh Ani (Klepper)
Mah Tovu (Round)
Birkot HaShachar (Nusach)
Ashrei (Smilow)
Hallelu Psalm 150 (Sufi)
Am I Awake (Aronson)
Hameirah (Warshawsky)
Mah Rabu (Warshawsky)
Or Chadash (Folk)
V’ha’er Eineinu (Folk)
Shema/V’ahavta

 

Modeh Ani

Modeh Ani – This prayer was historically the first thing Jews say when they wake up in the morning. We open our eyes and say Modeh Ani while still in bed. There is an idea that when we are asleep our soul leaves our body to reside with God. When we wake up, it is returned to us renewed, refreshed, pure, and ready to start a new day. If you take a look at the words, you will notice that God’s name is not mentioned anywhere in the prayer. Rather, God is referenced by other descriptors: “melekh chai v’kayam” (Everlasting Ruler). This is because when we first wake up, we are impure, lying in bed not ready to start the day, with crusts still in our eyes, having not yet washed our faces or hands. When you wake up, you aren’t ready to have a conversation with anyone, let alone one with the Divine! 

Mah tovu

Mah Tovu – These words were originally said by Bala’am, a magician who was sent by Balak to curse Israel. A midrash says that when he saw the Israelites tents, these words came out instead. He saw that the Israelites put their tents up close to each other in community, but with the doors facing away from each other to give each other privacy within community. We say this prayer upon entering the synagogue in order to build that sense of community wherever we go.

Birkot Hashachar

Birkot Hashachar – Each one of these brachot corresponds to something that we do in our morning rituals as we wake up and get ready to start our day. 

  • Natan L’sachvi Bina – Open our eyes and see that it is light outside 
  • She’asani B’tzalmo – Look in the mirror and see that we are made in God’s image
  • She’asani Yisrael – PG version: Do something “Jewish!” Put on Kippah or come to Pray. PG13 version: Go to the bathroom, look down, see circumcision, realize you’re a Jew!
  • She’asani Ben/Bat Chorin – We are free, have the ability to get out of bed and go on with our day.
  • Pokeach Ivrim – Open your eyes!
  • Malbish Arumim – Put on clothes/get dressed
  • Matir Asurim – We can get out of our “nightly prison” (bed)
  • Zokeif K’fufim – Get up and stretch
  • Rokah ha’aretz al hamayim – Look up at the sky
  • She’asah li kol tzarki – eat breakfast, able to go to the bathroom, etc.
  • Meichin Mitz’adei Gaver – Can get up, walk, move about our days
  • Ozer yisrael bigvurah – Tefillin on muscle
  • Oter yisrael betif’arah – Head Tefillin, Kippah
  • Notein L’ya’eif Koach – Give us strength to start a new day
  • Ma’avir sheina me’einai – Wipe the crunchies from our eyes

Baruch She’amar

Barukh She’amar – Bookends of Psukei D’zimrah with Yishtabach. The Brakhah that starts our section of praise with lots of singing and excitement before we get into the central part of our service. God who spoke and the world was created – “Barukh she’amar v’haya ha’olam” – Talk about the power of words to create and destroy. Words can heal, words can create worlds!

    Romemu

    Barukh She’amar – We say these words on weekdays and on Shabbat. Romemu means to raise up! We raise up things we want to celebrate. Who do you want to celebrate today? How do we raise God up? How can we raise each other up?

      ashrei

      Ashrei – Acrostic. Many different verses that praise great things God helps us with or great things we can do to help ourselves. The Ashrei begins with lines with the letter aleph three times before it continues with the rest of the letters of the alphabet. Why? You might also notice that each one of those lines begins with an aleph that makes an “ah” sound.

      One explanation is that at this point in the beginning of the service, we still aren’t yet sure what we want to say and do with our prayers. We don’t know if we have the right words! That “ah” sound is reminiscent of a slight stutter or pause because we don’t know if we’re ready to speak: uhh, uhh, uhh, And after we get through those lines, we hit on every single letter of the alphabet. Just in case we can’t formulate the right words, we’ve reached every letter of the alphabet, so we’ve at least begun each word we could have possibly used.

      There is another saying that sometimes, when we aren’t sure which words to say, we use an acrostic poem with all of the letters in them, and on their way into the air, the letters rearrange themselves to form the words we mean once we know what we want to say.

      Va’anachnu

      Va’anachnu – Sums up the theme of Psukei D’zimrah: Praising God, singing joyfully. Halleluyah should be something we say with excitement and energy! Waking us up and preparing us for the day ahead

      Psalm 150 – Halleluyah!

      Halleluyah – Goes through many different ways and mediums we can use to praise God. All about using your skills and what makes you happy in order to celebrate. You like dancing? So dance! You like singing? So sing! You like art? Write, draw, or paint! Creative expression is an amazing thing. It is the created (humans) creating something anew. The truest expression of “B’tzelem Elohim” (in God’s image) 

      Ends the entire book of psalms with “Kol haneshamah tehalel yah” – Every soul praises God. If you read the vocalization differently, it could read “Kol haneshimah tehalel yah,” meaning “every breath praises God” If we read it like this, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on how every moment could be a moment of gratitude and wonder.

      Yishtabach

      Yishtabach – The other bookend to our P’sukei D’zimrah service. Many different words for song and praise looped together with names for and praises of God. Again, a big idea of P’sukei D’zimrah is just to get us singing and smiling in the morning, starting the new day off on the right foot. The bracha includes the words, “Habocher b’shirei zimrah,” God who chooses melodies of song. God likes singing! When we sing and pray together, that is also an embodiment of being like the Divine. 

      Shacharit Weekday Nusach: Pre-Shema Blessings

      Barchu through Ahavah Rabbah

      Creation and Revelation

      barchu

      Barchu – The call to prayer. The real wake up call now that we’ve sung and prepared ourselves. This is the moment to pause and ask ourselves if we are ready to begin this day in the right way. Am I Awake? Am I prepared? Is anyone listening to my prayers? What am I really doing here?

      The blessings between Barkhu and Shema go through three major themes: 

      Creation, Revelation, and Redemption

      Hame’irah

      Hame’irah – “Hame’irah la’aretz v’ladarim aleha b’rachamim, u’vtuvah mechadeshet b’chol yom tamid ma’aseh b’reishit.” God lights up the world and all who live upon her with mercy, and in God’s goodness, everyday God renews the act of creation. There is a beautiful idea here about the opportunity to create and experience something new each and every day. You are not the same person as you were yesterday, as you have all of yesterday’s experiences and memories within you now, so you cannot possibly experience the next day in exactly the same way. Each day we have the opportunity to become partners with God in the act of creating and renewing.

      Mah Rabu

      Mah Rabu! – Judaism is all about awareness! When we see a rainbow, we say a brachah. When we meet someone new, we say a brachah. When we light candles to mark a holiday, we say a Brachah. It’s about making each moment significant. Mah Rabu gives us words to express the emotion we feel at those significant moments. We are awe-inspired. We are amazed. We are at a loss for words. In those moments, we can shout, “Mah Rabu!!” to help us express that feeling.

      Kulam b’chochma asita – Each one of us is created in wisdom, each with our own special purpose and reason for existence!

      El Baruch

      El Baruch – Same idea as Mah Rabu. Framed in an acrostic. God created the sun and the lights of the morning. When we see the sun and other creations, we are constantly reminded of the amazing glory of creation (Tamid Mesaprim K’vod El). Letters are the building blocks of creation. They are a part of everything in the universe and also connect us to every living thing. We are made up of the same elements, the same letters, as trees and grass and birds.

      Or Chadash

      Or Chadash – Last continuation of the creation theme. Yotzer Hame’orot Bracha bookends the creation idea and leads us into revelation.

      Prompt Question: Or Chadash talks about a new light shining on Zion every day. How can we make each day a new light (how can we make each day unique and exciting in its own way?)?

       

      Ahavah Rabbah

      Ahavah Rabbah – Beginning of the revelation theme. God gave us the Torah and our Mitzvot, and with a great love connects to the Jewish people through the generations. For Vehavi’einu at camp we use the Hatikvah tune, which thematically makes a lot of sense. Vehavi’einu is about bringing all of the Jewish people together from all over the world, and Hatikvah is our hope that the dream of the Jewish people living together in their homeland will continue to be a strong and beautiful reality. 

       

      Shema

      Shema – The ultimate Creed of the Jewish people. The central theme of revelation. We declare that God is our God and we are in relationship with the Divine. This is also a “secret code” that all Jews know. It connects us throughout the world and across generations. The idea is that there is power in creating relationships and connections with God and with people. We connect to Jews around the world when we say these words that are said by all Jews.


      Ve’ahavta and Vayomer – The ultimate revelation. We have God’s Mitzvot and we should follow them. God took us out of Egypt and showed us how to be the Jewish people. We should continue to teach them whenever and wherever we can and to whomever we can.

      Post-Shema Blessing

      L’dor Vador through Ga’al Yisrael

      Redemption

      Mi Chamocha

      Mi Chamocha – Redemption! We crossed the Red Sea from Egypt and slavery to freedom! This is the main reason to start the Amidah! We are free to practice our religion and live full lives as citizens. If only that were the case for everyone. We should always be aware of that fact and be thankful, and pray for a world where everyone can feel that freedom.

      Amidah

      Amidah – The central prayer of our service. Encompasses all of the themes of Creation, Revelation, and Redemption in one prayer. Hits on a lot of topics we ask for: Wisdom, success, health, forgiveness, etc. Connects us to our ancestors and to Jews throughout the ages. Kedushah is reminiscent of the angels. We recite the same things they used to say “up above”, and stand with our feet together because there is a midrash that the angels stand with just one foot and we try to emulate them.

      Aleinu

      Aleinu 

      Hallel

      Hallel

      Shabbat Torah Service

      Shabbat Torah Service: Opening the Ark

      Anim Zemirot/Shir Hakavod

      Anim Zemirot/Shir Hakavod

      havdalah

      Havdalah Blessings+Eliyahu HaNavi

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