The Prayerbook: New Interpretive Methods
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
The Jewish prayerbook is comprised of many prayers composed over the years, ancient words that have been said by Jews across generations and communities. What do these prayers actually mean, and how can we relate to these words in a deeper way?This course invites participants to look anew at the prayerbook, to investigate the Shabbat and weekday prayers, with an eye toward personal meaning. The course is intended not only for those with a prayer practice, but also for those interested in examining this rich literature from a personal perspective.
During the course, we will a) investigate primary sources (Biblical and rabbinic) that serve as background and inspiration for various prayers, b) form an interpretive methodology to read traditional Jewish prayers, and c) invest ancient prayers with more personal meaning.
We will ask such questions as: Are traditional prayer formulas able to express our own values/ideas of prayer? What do we do when we "disagree" with the prayer's content? How can we interpret the siddur in a grounded and traditional yet creative manner?