In Defense of Stage Direction-Free Prayer

This started out as a response to a comment on BZ’s Hilchot Pluralism series, but then got so long I figured I should just post it here.

The comment says: I don’t understand the strong prejudice against stage directed davening. It’s treated like a problem to be solved, rather than a comfortable and comforting aspect of communal prayer.

Here are a few reasons for one liberal Jew’s strong preferance for stage direction-free davening:

1. Because calling out page numbers (unless they’re sung in nusach and absolutely nothing else is said– which is very rare) are distracting if you’re trying to focus on your tefilah and locate yourself in the flow of the service.

2. Because it’s just as easy to make a chart of prayers and corresponding page numbers and leave copies on all the chairs or blow it up and hang it up somewhere or write it on a board where everyone can see it.

3. Because with a few exceptions in the service, Jewish prayer isn’t about everyone doing precisely the same thing at precisely the same time. There might be days when I want to focus on Psalm 148 for a good long time. I don’t want someone mandating that I move on to Psalms 149 and 150 when I’m not ready to. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable to try doing one’s own thing in a setting where the tefilah is heavily “managed” by the leader. For example, my minhag is to stand for the me’ein sheva on Friday night. But when I’m at BJ, where the rabbis say something along the lines of “you may be seated” after the amidah and everyone feels like they have to sit, I feel a thousand curious eyes staring at me whenever I choose to remaining standing. I feel exposed, and it’s not a good feeling. What would be the danger if the rabbis said nothing and let those people who wanted to sit sit and those who wanted to stand stand? (And those who don’t care or don’t know there’s a choice could just look around and see what other people are doing.) It feels simultaneously dictatorial and infantilizing to be told when I must sit.

4. Because I believe that prayer is a time for connecting to God/self/community, and not a time for extraneous preaching, stage directing, fundraising, and other verbal patter. I want to pray the prayers, not be interrupted with thoughts about those prayers or how I should pray them. I once had a teacher who said that when he has difficulty with a prayer he works it out at his desk, not while he prays. This resonates with me.

5. The most common rejoinder to all of this is that eliminating stage directions doesn’t work for people who aren’t familiar with the prayers, the Hebrew, the flow of the service, etc. I have several thoughts about this. First, the alternative (announcing stage directions) tends to leave people no better off knowledge-wise than when they started. If people are always being told when to sit, stand, and flip the page, most (though admittedly not all) will continue to rely on these directions rather than learn the service for themselves. Take a look at the majority of liberal synagogues in the US— stage directions reinforce “pediatric Judaism.”

Second, there are effective ways of helping people learn about prayer or figure out where we are in the service without announcing it from on high. We can offer classes in prayer, assign “buddies” to sit next to someone who is unfamiliar with the service, make those photocopies I mentioned above, etc. I don’t deny that it can be awful and disconcerting not to know where you are in the service; I just think there are better ways to address this than by subjecting everyone to stage directions.

Third, when people experience really good tefilah they are inspired to learn more about it and become self-sufficient. I see this all the time in the independent minyan scene. People often come who have no idea what’s going on, get hooked on the reflective, serious, non-dictatorial atmosphere, and are then moved to figure out how to be a part of that. It’s extremely difficult for a prayer leader to facilitate this kind of atmosphere if he/she also has to stop every two minutes and worry about calling pages and giving stage directions. (FWIW, in situations when I’m required to announce page numbers when I lead, I most often find a friend who is willing to call pages for me so I can focus on the davening.) How often is it that the rabbi up on the bimah giving directions really looks like s/he’s concentrating on her/his own prayer?

Jews are leaving liberal Judaism because they are tired of being preached at, sung to, undereducated, underestimated, and treated like they have no potential for spiritual or technical growth in prayer. Modern Jews are also hungry for authentic and compelling prayer experiences. A new approach to tefilah that includes reducing or eliminating stage directions in favor of some focused praying and some good educational efforts might— in some communities— help stem the tide.

Thoughts?

32 Responses to “In Defense of Stage Direction-Free Prayer”

  1. Hear hear!


    BZ · May 8th, 2006 at 10:03 pm
  2. I agree. There needs to be something inaccessible about tfilla and the shule experience. This makes the experience more mystical. By having to work to understand it, it gives it more value.


    Ittay · May 8th, 2006 at 10:09 pm
  3. I generally concur with your conclusions. It’s a tricky situation… these same liberal Jews don’t often see Orthodoxy as a real option but find their own liberal congregations lacking in spritual substance.

    That’s my sitution exactly, and living in the midwest where my options are severely limited – it is very disapointing.


    Gideon · May 8th, 2006 at 10:12 pm
  4. A few of my friends and I recently started a minyan in Los Angeles and this was one of the issues we discussed at the beginning. For all of the reasons stated here, we decided to not call pages or give stage directions. In fact there is rarely talking of any kind except a short drash and announcing where the Torah reading can be found. Consequently our davening space is focused and calm helping to facilitate spiritual and intentioned davening.

    Thank you for articulating these ideas so artfully.

    For more info or to recieve our mailing send an e-mail to picoegal@gmail.com


    Uzi · May 8th, 2006 at 10:27 pm
  5. I generally agree with your comments about making davening less “pediatric,” however, I actually really like when page numbers are called (not to be the contrary child here), because to me it feels like it makes things more communal. If I was with a group of friends I would also want to call pages; to me it’s sort of a, to catch you up on anything you might have missed. Maybe this is non-spiritual of me, but I like to go in and out of paying attention. Perhaps it’s a result of todays ADHD world, but I can’t pay attention to any one thing for the full length of a service- i like to sometimes be engaged with other members o the minyan rather than just the prayers themselves- for me praying is more of a communal experience than necessarily between me and an eternal presence. And yes, I could just figure out the spot myself if I’m distracted, quite easily, but again, to me, it represents a communal spirit, a harkening back to my ancestors’ Judaism- a room full of men yelling and someone having to shout the page number over them periodically. Now the other stage directions, I do find a bit abrasive at times, so it’s probably something worth discussing and/or modifying within a given kehilla.


    Aliza · May 8th, 2006 at 11:07 pm
  6. You write

    Jews are leaving liberal Judaism because they are tired of being preached at, sung to, undereducated, underestimated, and treated like they have no potential for spiritual or technical growth in prayer. Modern Jews are also hungry for authentic and compelling prayer experiences. A new approach to tefilah that includes reducing or eliminating stage directions in favor of some focused praying and some good educational efforts might— in some communities— help stem the tide.

    You should have written:

    Elitist New York Jews are leaving liberal Judaism because they are tired of learning anything from a preacher, being inspired by interesting new music, and treated like they are members of a community that is made up of diverse people who might not be as well-educated as they are. These elitist Jews are hungry for self-centered davening experiences where they can sit and stand whenever the hell their little hearts feel like it. A new approach to tefilah that includes reducing or eliminating stage directions in favor of self-centered praying and some prayer training efforts might— in New York— help stem the tide.

    I don’t mean this as a personal attack. I don’t know you. It’s just that:

    (a) You seem to be advocating for davening experiences that are about individual prayer, not communal worship.

    (b) Your evidence of people “leaving liberal Judaism” is base on anecdotal evidence from New York, which is so distant from the rest of the Jewish world that, well, I dunno… Suffice it to say that NY is an exception to the rule, not THE rule. I’m sorry, but BJ is not a good example of mainstream liberal Judaism.


    Barkin · May 9th, 2006 at 5:16 am
  7. I like to have the pages called. I read Hebrew very slowly, and I fall behind everyone else. When it comes time for me to catch up, I can’t do it by listening to the reader, as I’m not familiar enough with the service to know where he is unless he tells me. I go to a small shul in boston, where the rabbi announces the page number softly every once in a while, often while singing. I don’t find it obtrusive; I find it helpful.

    I like the phrase “pediatric Judaism”. I’ve been using “Judaism for tots” myself.


    cipher · May 9th, 2006 at 6:17 am
  8. The page number system is, I think, symptomatic of so many other stupid things connected with liberal Judaism. If people knew Hebrew, and the general scheme of the Torah, and how davening was built, they wouldn’t need page numbers. And these things are not so complicated – any third grader from a religious school in Israel can get along. And if they can’t, then nice people in the shul can show them. It seems that there is way to much emphasis, on all levels of libJud, on ceremony, decorum and meaning, and not on FUNCTIONALITY – page numbers make davening pedantic, not user friendly and not fun. Just keep it running, and people will make sense out of it.
    Also, it seems that page numbers are problematic for those who don’t know Hebrew but wish to keep it anyway, thus raising the question of the point of having people focus on a page they can’t understand in the first place.


    Amit · May 9th, 2006 at 6:54 am
  9. Another note:
    With all the stage directions, it seems libJews (and women in general) do not know what to do when it *is* important, like “no moving or talking during kedusha”, or “no drinking during torah reading”. So the point of the directions is sorely missed, even for those who like them.


    Amit · May 9th, 2006 at 6:56 am
  10. Amit, I’m sorry that we’re slowing things down for the rest of you. You’re right – IF we knew Hebrew, and the davening structure, but no one showed us. So we’re trying to figure it out.

    And I don’t want to continually be bothering “nice people in shul” while they’re trying to pray.

    If there were more beginner’s services available, perhaps this wouldn’t be even be an issue. We could just stay there until we graduated. Perhaps there could be a sign at the entrance to “real” services – “You must be able to read THIS MUCH to be admitted”!

    It’s statements like these that reinforce my belief that frum Jews and non-observant Jews probably shouldn’t mix – for a lot of reasons.

    Also, I’ve been to the Orthodox minyan at Harvard, and they have a chart with changeable numbers – but then you’ve got to designate someone to stand there and flip them.

    Sometimes I wonder why I read these freaking blogs.


    cipher · May 9th, 2006 at 8:25 am
  11. Rooftopper, I feel honored to have sparked such a wonderful discussion! making our assumptions and biases more explicit – and this open to critique – is one excellent function of a blog posting.

    Reading your impassioned defense of no page reading policies, I just find myself thinking, well, I guess I won’t go to your shul. Which is fine; only, I get the feeling that you think it is more pluralistic to not read page numbers. On this point, you are wrong. It is neither more nor less pluralistic. It’s just a preference, no matter what your rationale is.

    BTW, I am fluent in Hebrew; in Orthodox shuls (not just) I get lost even though I know the prayers, even though I know Hebrew, because my mind wanders in and out. I feel more relaxed knowing that soon, very soon, someone will tell me what page to go to. I’m free to ignore that instruction, but I’ll know….

    I agree that Reform congregations could open up a bit in terms of practice – but they are. If you opened a thread on the subject, I bet you’d get lots of stories of how Reform temples have been changing of late.

    Final thought: having left Israel to live in the US, I just love, LOVE the diversity of Jewish practice in this country. It’s magical. I can’t imagine having this conversation while living in Israel. Thank you GOD for making the USA our true promised land. Amen.

    Mwah!


    Charles · May 9th, 2006 at 8:32 am
  12. Barkin:

    You seem to have missed the point of my post, and ignored key pieces of it. Every stage direction-free community I belong to features “preaching” (sometimes from an officially certified rabbi no less)— just not during the main tefilah. I also said nothing about music. In fact, I belong to the communities I do *precisely* because they are constantly introducing “interesting new music,” which is more than can be said for most (not all) conventional synagogues, whether urban or suburban. Education (and diversity in attendance) is also a crucial piece of my ideal picture (which I noted in the post), as it also is for just about every minyan I frequent. Check out the websites of these communities, and you’ll find that they often classes in prayer (and other things). JUST NOT DURING THE DAVENING.

    “Communal worship” to me isn’t about chatting with your neighbor while davening’s going on (which yes, is admittedly a “preference”). It’s about people praying fervently in ways that work for them within a communal framework: sitting next to people with whom they are in relationship, singing passionately with people with whom they are in relationship, creating a prayer-conducive atmosphere with people with whom they are in relationship, and then coming together with those same people in meaningful ways after/outside of davening to learn, support one another through life’s ups and downs, and act for justice in the world. As Aliza points out, this is a historically traditional model for Jewish prayer, and I’m sorry we’ve (in the liberal community) lost much of it.

    And BTW, given that you know nothing about me, how can you assume my evidence about people leaving liberal Judaism comes only from NYC, much less solely from BJ?! It in fact comes from a Jewish childhood in the suburbs, a Jewish adult life lived in four different American cities, and professional travel all over the place. (And have you read the papers lately? Conservative Judaism isn’t exactly thriving…)


    RR · May 9th, 2006 at 10:03 am
  13. RR: why did you mention BJ? Did I miss how BJ was relevant to all this?


    Charles · May 9th, 2006 at 10:07 am
  14. Oh, and Amit: Please don’t use this discussion as an opportunity to bash women. Ignorance– and knowledge– are evenly distributed.


    RR · May 9th, 2006 at 10:10 am
  15. Charles:

    I mentioned BJ (with which I have a love/hate relationshp) as one example of a top-down, stage-managed model. Barkin seemed to assume that’s where I was drawing all my conclusions from, which it definitely wasn’t. I’m more of an independent minyan type, for obvious reasons.


    RR · May 9th, 2006 at 10:15 am
  16. Not to get all technical, but some part of davening need to be communal. A great example would be Kedusha. If you don’t have ten men (assuming, non-egal for the moment, don’t hate me), I think it might be a brakha l’vatala or however you spell it (English translation: the blessing isn’t kosher). Prayer isn’t only about one’s own experience. If you have a small minyan, you need to know that everyone is quite literaly on the same page.

    Another important point: mourners kaddish. If you are fortunate enough never to have said mourners kaddish, then you might not realize how important it is for someone to say “kaddish” really loudly, and/or the page number for kaddish. There are a variety of customs on exactly when to say kaddish, and some shuls will add a few extras if they didn’t have a minyan (and thus couldn’t say it) at the beginning. It is very upsetting to have to try and catch up once the kaddish has started. Announcing kaddish also silences a few of the talkers.


    DT · May 9th, 2006 at 10:22 am
  17. Barkin characterizes Rooftopper Rav and RR’s communities as “elitist”. I think it’s far more elitist to have the rabbi and cantor be the sole locus of Jewish knowledge in the community, while everyone else is completely dependent on them. If everyone is knowledgeable, then there is no such distinction between the elite and the masses, and RR has a whole paragraph about how to get closer to this point. I disagree with Ittay’s comment that the service should be inaccessible; I think everyone should have enough knowledge that it is accessible to everyone.

    Barkin writes “they are members of a community that is made up of diverse people who might not be as well-educated as they are”. If diversity were the issue, then one would expect stage directions to be most prevalent in communities where lots of new people were coming in all the time. On the contrary, the most ossified static institutional synagogues are also the ones that are 100% stage-directed. People who have been going to the same synagogue, week after week, for decades still aren’t familiar enough with the service to pray on their own without directions. Why have we let this happen? “Well-educated” is not a congenital trait, but something that can and should be developed over time.

    Charles:
    I think that RR mentioned BJ because it’s the most stage-directed service that RR usually attends (in contrast to lay-led independent minyanim); I don’t think RR meant to suggest that it is more or less stage-directed than any other rabbi-led synagogue.


    BZ · May 9th, 2006 at 10:40 am
  18. cipher writes:
    If there were more beginner’s services available, perhaps this wouldn’t be even be an issue. We could just stay there until we graduated.

    I agree. The problem right now is that most liberal synagogues implicitly see themselves as “beginner’s services”, so that when people become more educated, they “graduate” to Orthodox communities. As a result, liberal Judaism is hemorrhaging its educated non-rabbis.

    Perhaps there could be a sign at the entrance to “real” services – “You must be able to read THIS MUCH to be admitted”!

    I strongly disagree. Some people who aren’t 100% familiar with the service still get a lot out of attending stage-direction-free services, because they’re not concerned about always being on the same page as the leader (or being on any page at all). Others just find this frustrating. The sign should be more like “Enter at your own risk.”


    BZ · May 9th, 2006 at 10:47 am
  19. DT:

    Agreed. There are definitely a few places in the service where people should be together. I guess I take that for granted so I didn’t think to mention it. I also agree about announcing kaddish, for all the reasons you articulated. But the leader interrupting the hazara to say “the kedusha begins on page x” seems more strained.


    RR · May 9th, 2006 at 10:57 am
  20. i agree completely with this post. this is the reason i left reform judaism in favor of orthodoxy. Jews of our generation are tired or being treated like infants. once you learn the structure of davening you can easily keep up. i was slow at reading hebrew too. i’m sorry but it takes a lot of practice. however, if you care enough you will put the work in. you should raise yourself up not lower the bar for everyone else.


    MC Jujitsu · May 9th, 2006 at 7:35 pm
  21. RR –
    You wrote “Agreed. There are definitely a few places in the service where people should be together. I guess I take that for granted so I didn’t think to mention it.”
    That’s not very plurallistic, is it? Personally, I’m an ex-Yeshiva brat, so I know these things. But plenty of Jews do not. I understand why you wouldn’t bother mentioning it. However, it’s not a big step from what you wrote to believing that prayer doesn’t need to in unison in certain parts. Try reading your post as if you had no background in halakha – you might find things in it that you did not intend.

    You are probably also aware that back in the day, the rabbis believed that prayer said by bunch of people together had more power than prayer said by the same number of individuals. Presumably, some still believe that.

    I’m inclined to agree that the kedusha announcement is really annoying if you’re still finishing up the amedah. I would suggest that we need page numbers announced when there’s a big change. On holidays, it’s nice to know what page Hallel is on. When psukei d’zimrah ends, it’s not a bad idea to announce where shachrit starts (unless it’s the next page). Or shir shel yom – that’s another one that can be hard to find.


    DT · May 10th, 2006 at 5:47 pm
  22. RR & Co. -

    Look… I don’t even know that I disagree with you on principle. We probably agree. I think I was taking a shot at the attitude in the post.

    If you are saying, “At most non-orth shuls, the Jews are uneducated. The services are uninspiring.” Fine. Then, as far as I’m concerned, the question is whether we can push people beyond hand-held prayer.

    I believe the answer is yes. Creating services where you don’t call page numbers and everyone davens at their own pace is no way to show people the way

    I also believe that it’s elitist, childish and self-centered to say, “Screw all those uneducated Jews who need the page numbers, and like being babied, and want the rabbi to pray for them not with them, and like the cantor to sing old boring melodies that aren’t inspiring or uplifting… I’m gonna go start my own minyan (or join a minyan of like minded people).”

    Ultimately, i just reject the notion that the best way to handle said problem is to (a) complain about the uneducated laity, and then (b) start your own minyan. If you actually care about Judaism (and not just your own Jewish self), you can’t just create your own little elitist bubble… especially if you’re the type who thinks you can try to help lead people somewhere and make the world a bit better. I think the solution is changing institutions, not circumventing them.

    And seriously… it’s just page numbers. It bothers you that much?


    Barkin · May 11th, 2006 at 1:11 am
  23. Barkin, have you read anything that RR wrote? RR has advocated for lots and lots of education, at any time other than during the davening.

    You write:
    especially if you’re the type who thinks you can try to help lead people somewhere

    And what evidence is there that people are being led anywhere? At most liberal synagogues, people are equally ignorant at age 40, age 50, and age 60 (imagine what one could learn in 20 years if one had any motivation to try!), and they have been trained to see this ignorance as an entitlement.


    BZ · May 11th, 2006 at 7:03 am
  24. I think the solution is changing institutions, not circumventing them.

    I think the solution is creating models of what we want to see, not futilely trying to persuade institutions to change when they don’t want to change. When they see that there is another way, maybe they’ll want to change.


    BZ · May 11th, 2006 at 7:07 am
  25. Barkin:

    Here’s one thing I didn’t mention in my post that I think is interesting: Rather than living in an elite bubble, some independent minyanim like Kol Zimrah actually seem to attract *more* “beginners” than other Jewish institutions I’ve been involved in. It seems like people enjoy the service so much that they say: “Wow. I had no idea Judaism could be like this!” And then they often get interested in learning skills. And then the minyanim (and other groups) teach them. And then they start teaching other people. I’ve seen that happen so many times. For all their supposed accessibility, institutions that stage manage their services don’t seem to get those kinds of results.

    I don’t actually think the “wow, I didn’t know Judaism could be like this” reaction has much to do with the lack of verbal page numbers per se. (I think the “please rise” directions or the interruptions to davening to talk *about* a prayer are more disruptive than quiet page numbers being called… the two got intertwined in my original post). It’s more about the aesthetics of prayer (including those other stage directions), which different institutions– and different generations– feel very differently about.

    I think it’s fine to feel differently about the aesthetics of prayer, as long people are allowed to choose– where they have a choice– the aesthetics they want to pray in. I’m not sure why it seems to feel so important to you that the independent minyan crowd put its energies toward changing synagogues. I would guess that most of us have already spent some number of years trying, and have found that like all institutions synagogues are often resistant even to gentle change.

    It may also be more productive, at this particular moment in time, to help make change in the Jewish world from outside synagogues. However one feels about independent minyanim, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that they are wildly popular in cities that have them, and are starting to become more multigenerational. In many places they’ve brought an entire generation of young Jews back into active Judaism. Going by the number of articles that have been written about the phenomenon in the last five years or so, the institutional Jewish world has started to sit up and pay attention, trying to understand the phenomenon and where they may have failed in attracting a younger generation. Synagogue-revitalization organizations like Synagogue 3000 understand very clearly that independent minyanim embody some of the “best practices” that may very well help save organized Jewish life. (Check out the Emergent Communities website at www.synagogue3000.org/emergentweb/).

    I’m not sure that those of us involved in independent communities could ever have had this sort of impact trying to make change from the inside. The very success of the independent minyanim is pushing synagogues in good and challenging ways. Besides, if people weren’t previously much involved in organized Jewish life because the aesthetics of most synagogues didn’t meet their needs and then they get involved through independent minyanim, I’m puzzled about how that could possibly be a bad thing.

    I do write all of this knowing that I have the luxury of living in a city with lots of Jews and lots of Jewish choice. What I decide to do when I move to a place with fewer Jews remains to be seen. But I do know that, in the meantime, the independent minyanim and my friends and colleagues who run them have provided me with an incredibly fertile laboratory for exploring innovations in Jewish prayer and community-building. It can only be a good thing that and the hundreds other minyan-goers will take this knowledge with us to whatever Jewish communities we next find ourselves in.


    RR · May 11th, 2006 at 9:16 am
  26. BZ… And what evidence is there that people are being led anywhere?

    RR… It may also be more productive, at this particular moment in time, to help make change in the Jewish world from outside synagogues.

    We all agree that something needs to change.

    My worry is this:

    While I agree that they’re stagnating, synagogues are still a (if not the) central institutiion in American Jewish life.

    A lot of the younger generation’s energy (more specifically, a lot of the potential professional and lay leadership) is leaving the synagogue. It might be because the synagogue world has done little to keep them. (How many leaders of independent minyanim are rabbinical students?)

    Nevertheless, the resulting scenario is one where the Jewish elite has left the synagogue world, leaving the folk to fend for themselves. This is polarization at its worst. And it results in Jews not being served.

    The very success of the independent minyanim is pushing synagogues in good and challenging ways. Besides, if people weren’t previously much involved in organized Jewish life because the aesthetics of most synagogues didn’t meet their needs and then they get involved through independent minyanim, I’m puzzled about how that could possibly be a bad thing.

    It isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing.

    I’m not against independent minyanim. I just don’t think they’re our salvation.

    I do write all of this knowing that I have the luxury of living in a city with lots of Jews and lots of Jewish choice. What I decide to do when I move to a place with fewer Jews remains to be seen.

    I think that’s the same sentiment I was expressing with my digs at New York.


    Barkin · May 11th, 2006 at 11:02 am
  27. (How many leaders of independent minyanim are rabbinical students?)

    Not so many.

    Nevertheless, the resulting scenario is one where the Jewish elite has left the synagogue world, leaving the folk to fend for themselves. This is polarization at its worst. And it results in Jews not being served.

    It is nothing new that educated liberal Jewish laypeople are alienated from synagogues. The only thing that’s new is that now we have somewhere else (in a liberal Jewish context) where we’re actually happy. Read “Profile of an ‘Unaffiliated’ Jew” for more.


    BZ · May 11th, 2006 at 1:16 pm
  28. In defense of “stage-directions”

    When I’m leading daily services at my shul I feel a great responsibilty to the elderly women in the kahal. Generally, when they were growing up women were denied a Jewish education. When I do announce page numbers I hear them stage-whispering them to each other. I don’t want it to disturb the kavanah of other people, but by the same token, I want the service to be accessible. Clearly, it is a fine line.

    I think that not announcing page numbers, though, goes too far in the other direction and makes it very difficult for beginners and people who didn’t have the opportunity to get a good Jewish education.

    As someone who really only learned to daven this year while saying kaddish for my father, I also don’t want to pull the ladder up after me. It wasn’t too long ago that I needed page numbers.

    It is too bad that Siddur Sim Shalom contains so few printed stage directions. I think that would be very helpful.


    IchBinEinBrookliner · May 11th, 2006 at 3:50 pm
  29. [...] In our recent heated discussion on stage-direction-free prayer, all participants agreed that prayer education is necessary and important (even though we disagreed on the time, place, and manner). Apropos of this, Elie Kaunfer, a founder of Kehilat Hadar, has written an article on prayer education that appears in the latest issue of CAJE’s Jewish Education News. The article doesn’t appear anywhere online, so we have received permission to reprint it here. [...]


    Jewschool » Blog Archive » Prayer Education: A Plan for Revitalization · June 14th, 2006 at 5:39 pm
  30. [...] and a rabbi could make these announcements so that the community is more welcoming. We’ve had another discussion here about stage directions during prayer. It’s a complicated question, but two things are [...]


    Independent Minyan Conference closing plenary | Jewschool · December 14th, 2008 at 9:26 pm
  31. [...] The real culprit is expecting someone to do it for you (like the rabbi). That’ll do it. Barkin writes “they are members of a community that is made up of diverse people who might not be as well-educated as they are”. If diversity were the issue, then one would expect stage directions to be most prevalent in communities where lots of new people were coming in all the time. On the contrary, the most ossified static institutional synagogues are also the ones that are 100% stage-directed. People who have been going to the same synagogue, week after week, for decades still aren’t familiar enough with the service to pray on their own without directions. Why have we let this happen? “Well-educated” is not a congenital trait, but something that can and should be developed over time. [Jewschool] [...]


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  32. [...] when he goes on to a new psalm or whatever, we’ve all got to go on, because it’s so distracting that it’s easier just to follow him. I hate this. And the same people keep getting aliyot, [...]


    A post about nothing and a kiddush barbeque | Crystal Decadenz · June 18th, 2011 at 11:52 pm

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik