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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776
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Learner Services


  1. ...You might also think about targeting current members who shy away from attending services because they feel out of place. sounds like a good opportunity for more seasoned learners to practice their skills. Recent adult b'nei mitzvah could read or chant Torah, for instance. Since it's a learning service, "regular" members could come to the bimah at appropriate times and explain a tradition, such as how to bow for the Bar?chu. I think a good learning philosophy is that of "Learn in order to do."



  2. Try Family Education In Small Congregations--Shabbat by Ellen Singer, edited by Alice Jaffe at: [click on "Shabbat].

    Also you may want to contact the Union?s Worship, Music and Religious Living Dept. at

    Also, the Shabbat Family Workbook. This workbook, designed for use with one lesson in Volume One Family Education Programs, "A Glimpse of Paradise: Shabbat in Your Home." This workbook contains all of the songs, prayers, readings and worksheets necessary to implement this program. Each family participating in this program will need their own Shabbat Family Workbook. Shabbat Family Workbook may be ordered directly from the Union Press Web site or by calling the Union Press at 212.650.4120.

    Also, National Jewish Outreach has Beginners' Shabbat materials; although I believe this might have a Conservative slant, it still should be useful. Michael


  3. I think you are referring to Shabbat Across America which is run by the National Jewish Outreach. We have been participating in this since it started and have found it is a very positive experience for all concerned.

    NJOP will send all the materials you need and a learner's siddur which you can have photocopied. It is geared to the type of congregation--Reform congregations get one based on Gates of Prayer, for example. The service is explained and it is very clear. There is time during the dinner for discussion and the entire evening is, as I said, a good way of learning some very basic facts.

    Jackie 50 family units


  4. What I'm more interested in is the "shape" of the service we provide that evening. It will opportunity to inform our attendees about the service, what is in it and why. Without going into Hoffman's wonderful My People's Prayer Book series, or using Elbogen, there is wonderful stuff, and we want to expose them to it in a way that is both explanatory and inviting. Fred 920 units

  6. Our Rituals Committee conducts a "Teaching/Learning Shabbat Service" at least once a year during a "regular" Friday evening service. We, too, use Gates of Prayer as the siddur. The liturgy is broken up (as little as possible, so as to enable a sense of Shabbat spirituality to still prevail) with explanations re such things as the source and meanings of upcoming prayers, any choreography associated with them, and occasionally other tidbits of information. Carol

  8. One book that I've found to be highly illuminating is written by Rosenberg, published by Aronson, and called Jewish Liturgy as a Spiritual System.

    Fred mentioned Hoffman's resources (I'm now beginning to read his The Art of Public Prayer) and Elbogen, and this has prompted me to pull out my copy of Rosenberg, who makes reference to these sources in his book. Although the focus for a Shabbat for Learners service may best be applied to new members and interfaith families..., a third group this book would be geared to, I think, would be people who have perhaps gone to the service for a long time, and who might be encouraged to look at the service in an entirely different way, as though a patient were going to a chiropractor, looking for a new insight into how to stand.

    Maybe Rosenberg would be too hard to integrate into a Reform congregation, let alone any congregational community. Though the author happens to have been trained in the conservative tradition, he certainly provides detailed references to the four movements, critiquing them all. And in spirit, he takes a hard line, suggesting that most Jews are really just wasting their time, either buzzing through the service, or missing the opportunity to engage in it meaningfully, and the chance the service provides to revitalize ones spirit altogether.

    Speaking for myself, like the lone Jew on a desert island who needs two Temples so that he can complain about the one he doesn't go to, I can say in good faith that--although I have no idea just when I'm going to try to make a good practice and study of this particular book (karate and swimming for the young ones remain as two current obstacles, for example), I've been encouraged enough by my once through it, and my knowledge of it's existence, to feel optimistic about my children's opportunity to engage in the service meaningfully themselves.




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