web analytics
December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Challenges And Creative Responses To Tefillah Education

Goldmintz-072514

“I myself often feel that tefillah is the most exhausting part of my day…. Yet I desperately seek to create a space where students can have a personal and meaningful connection with God…. I am very concerned that I have gradually become a warden, always looking for someone who might be talking, and have drifted far away from being a model of the joy and warmth of davening…”

These words, written by a fine, sensitive educator, are echoed by scores of others I have encountered. For years it felt like it was one of those closely guarded secrets that educators only whispered to one another: Tefillah in the morning with kids is hard: “It takes me the first couple of hours of the day just to recuperate.” “It puts me in a bad mood.” “The kids don’t appreciate it.” “I work so hard the rest of the day working on becoming closer to the students, and I feel that policing in tefillah hinders my ability to connect with them.”

I recall that in the early years of my career, we thought the siddur was the answer. Then we thought that If only kids would understand the words, they surely would appreciate tefillah so much more. But our minyanim did not get any quieter despite the bilingual siddurim we were using at the time. As one student wrote, “Even if I read the prayers in English I still don’t feel them. I feel really bad though – I want to understand; I just can’t get there.”

Many students struggle with the distance they feel from the words and concepts of the siddur. Indeed, the very meaning of prayer is not something we have spent a lot of time explaining to kids. In elementary school there is a heavy emphasis, as there should be, on children learning to read, on correct pronunciation, on singing, and on “learning” ever more prayers to add to their repertoire. By the time they get to middle and high school, we often just assume they “get it.”

But the truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about. We don’t ask them to ask themselves what prayer means to them and how it might make a difference in their lives.

For many of us as adults, our knowledge combines with our life experience to bring meaning to those words, but that is something we learned over time as we came to realize the siddur could help us express our innermost feelings and aspirations. But why should we have to wait until we’re adults to appreciate the words? Surely young children and adolescents have their own feelings, thoughts, and aspirations. Should the siddur not speak to them as well?

Yeshiva University and Koren Publishers have come together to suggest a paradigm shift in tefillah education. They envisioned a siddur that would be age-appropriate both in form and content, that would be aesthetically pleasing and functional, that would preserve the integrity of tradition and, above all, that would encourage students to find their own meaning in the words.

Thanks to the support of the Magerman family, we’ve developed a new series of siddurim for students: the Koren Magerman Educational Siddur Series. Each siddur, developmentally-designed for each age group, focuses on the critical goals of meaning making and connection building. The first in the series (for K-2nd grade) and the fourth (for 9th -12th grade and beyond) were published earlier this year. The two middle siddurim (for 3-5th grade and 6-8th grade), will form the bridge between them. They will be available in the coming months.

About the Author: Rabbi Jay Goldmintz, Ed.D., is a seasoned educator who formerly served as headmaster of the Ramaz Upper School in Manhattan. He is the commentary author of the Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur. This essay was originally published, in slightly different form, in the Lookjed Digest of the Lookstein Center.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Challenges And Creative Responses To Tefillah Education”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Posted to Twitter in Ferguson, MO by St. Louis County Police: "Bricks thrown at police, 2 police cars burned, gun seized by police. Tonight was disappointing."  Their motto is, "To protect and serve."
Prosecutor in Ferguson Case: ‘Witnesses Lied Under Oath’
Latest Indepth Stories
The annual  Chabad menorah lighting in Sydney has been called off this year because of the murders in the Lindt cafe.

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Greiff-112814-Men

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

Two dreidels from the author’s extensive collection.

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

Zealousness has its place and time in Judaism; Thank G-d for heroic actions of the Maccabees!

More Articles from Rabbi Jay Goldmintz
Goldmintz-072514

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/challenges-and-creative-responses-to-tefillah-education/2014/07/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: