July 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

HP Shul’s Members Share Tips on Preserving Joy of Tefillah

Many Jews worldwide have struggled to maintain the potency of their communal prayer in the solitary circumstances of COVID-19. Members of one shul in Highland Park decided to seek out and share tips from different members on how they have preserved the excitement of prayer for themselves and their families.

The new column in the weekly bulletin of Congregation Ohav Emeth, created by shul members Michael Garber and Rabbi Meir Lipschitz and introduced on May 15, explained: “The lockdown has created many unprecedented challenges for the world and the Orthodox Jewish community; one of those is davening without a minyan, especially on Shabbos. We cannot hear leining, listen to the drasha, answer amen to brachos and Kaddish, sing Kedusha together, or do any of the devarim sheb’kedusha that require a minyan. … It is quite challenging to have a meaningful tefillah while isolated in one’s home. Therefore, we bring you this new feature in our weekly newsletter. Each week a different member family of the congregation will share what they do at home that is enhancing their davening experience. Hopefully this will help inspire others as they embrace some of the ideas shared here, and deepen our connections even as we are apart.”

In the introductory “Enhancing Our Davening Experience” column, Rabbi Meir and Jordy Lipschitz shared their strategies: “In our home we have tried to keep to the standard shul schedule as much as possible, complete with davening, groups and kiddush. My two older boys and I gather in our dining room in our regular Shabbos shul clothes and begin Birchos HaShachar together. We continue at our own pace until Birchos Krias Shema, with me sometimes doing Baruch She’Amar and Ashrei with Shmuel so he can learn those tefillot. After Amidah is when groups would start in shul and so as I begin learning, leining and the drasha—my reading some of my favorite sefarim on the parsha—the boys go to learn the parsha, play games or go on a walk with my wife, who is our substitute group leader. The older one rejoins me for Mussaf and the younger one comes back for Ein Kelokeinu and Aleinu.

At some point in the morning—after Shacharis and before “shul” ends—we break for kiddush, prepared by the kiddush committee (my wife Jordy). In honor of Rabbi Kaufman, I also keep Torah cards in my pocket so when the boys wish me “good Shabbos” or participate nicely I can give them cards that we then read together.”

In the May 22 bulletin, Sandy Alter suggested: “Designate a place in your home as ‘the shul,’ daven there every time and treat it as a shul during devotional hours… Remember that while the public reading of Torah is currently impossible, the essence of that reading isn’t really ‘reading’ at all. We have always considered this reading of the Torah as learning Torah. Thus, instead of lamenting not hearing a public leining, we should redouble the time available to learn the weekly parsha in depth, appropriate to one’s ability.”

In the shul bulletin published on June 5, Rabbi Shmuel and Morah Esther Greene shared: “In our household, on Shabbat morning, we have been trying to incorporate Torah learning in between Shacharit and Mussaf, the same time that we would read the Torah in shul. I try to learn different parts with different children. With one daughter we study an aliyah or two with an English/Hebrew Chumash, and with another daughter the haftarah. It’s eye opening when one reads the words slowly and tries to understand how it all fits together. Amazing ideas sprout out of the simple meaning of the text that are relevant to our daily life. This type of studying truly brings Jewish learning to life and we won’t want to give it up so easily once we return to a regular Shabbat shul routine.”

In the shul bulletin to be published on June 12: David and Shifra Zelingher shared their approach: “On Shabbos morning, at around 9:15 a.m., when we would normally be arriving at shul, the boys and I head downstairs for davening. We each daven at our own pace, similar to what we do every weekday morning. We typically break around 10:15 a.m. to hear a dvar Torah from school and some board games with Shifra and Debbie (the new game lately is called “Sequence”). This is very similar to groups at OE, complete with fun and snacks. At 11:30 we all head out for a walk as a family, almost as if we’re heading into kiddush at OE. We get to see so many people on their porches and walking the streets of Edison with us, enjoying the socially distant company and the weather. When we get home around 1 p.m. we daven Mussaf and then head to lunch and rest.”

“I’m so impressed with the efforts of our shul members in developing the ‘Enhancing Our Davening’ column,” said Ohav Emeth’s Rav, Rabbi Eliyahu Kaufman. “They have shared the creativity of our fellow members in keeping their tefillah and talmud Torah fresh and given chizuk to us all as we adapt to the challenges of this time.”

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles