A House of Prayer: Jewish Prayer and Spiritual Community

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

“My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer for All People.”  All people?  What does the prophet Isaiah mean when he says “all people?”  We typically understand this phrase to be a sign of welcome into the sanctuary, and it certainly is!  Yet, this summer, we will add another layer of meaning.  The synagogue is a house of prayer for all people because the fullness of Jewish prayer requires not only the singular “person,” but the plural, “people.”   This summer, join us  for community, prayer, and disuccion, as we  explore how Jewish prayer is designed to spiritually connect us in community. 

Once each month, a congregant will chant Torah on Friday evening.  In ancient times, Torah was read on the market days–the days on which the community gathered.  And so, periodically, we bring Torah reading to our Friday evening services–the day on which our community gathers.

Our Friday evenings in July will focus on the role that prayer can play in connecting us to the other people in our sacred space.  As we study these prayers, we will interpret some changes in liturgical practice, and we will explore the balance between tradition and change.
Our Friday evenings in August will continue to focus on communal prayer.  With August will come the Hebrew month of Elul: the Hebrew month that precedes the High Holy Days and begins our preparation for repentance.  Each Shabbat in Elul, we will discover a High Holy Day text that moves us to reach inward and also to reach outward to those who surround us in our congregation.