experiments, instruments & measurement book

The Prayer Shop Hop – “Prayer is a Person Thing”

by Sarah Poland, Morah Derech at Community Synagogue of Rye

Back in June, Coalition Educator Shana Zionts told us about the bold new model being pioneered at Community Synagogue of Rye, “Chavurah” – read the original post here.  We now have the pleasure of hearing how that model has been put into action with a reflection from Sarah Poland, a Morah Derech who leads the Chavurah group…

Recently our kids took a trip to Westchester Mall: We called it the Prayer Shop Hop. The kids were divided into two groups and were assigned to film people while asking three questions:

-Do you pray?
-When do you pray?
-What do you pray for?
I have to say that I was surprised by many people’s kindness in their readiness to discuss prayer. One woman added in her interview that she thought in a world filled with such chaos at times it is nice to have children ask about prayer. What a gift we gave to some people who were eager to share their voices. 

We found that most people do pray on their own, and many in a communal setting. Most pray about health and peace, for their families and for the world.  We divided the answers into four types of prayers: thanks, praise, forgiveness and plea.

The kids were mature and well mannered, asking people who they thought would give honest answers to their questions. We learned a lot about what it means to pray, and about people’s relationship to prayer itself. Only one person said that they do not pray at all – the rest taught us that they stop during the day, at night and during all different circumstances to focus and wish for something. 

We connected this focus to the meditation that we began with during our first class. The kids all said that they learned that prayer is not a Jewish thing, it’s a person thing, and that you can do it at any time for any reason.  

Overall, I would have to say that I think the project went really well and the kids did tremendously. We are working on creating the documentary for them and the rest of the school to watch!

Reflection: What elements of powerful learning do you see in this model?  
What events has your congregation held in public spaces?  How and when do you interact with the broader community?  
Share your thoughts in the comments and continue the conversation!

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