Making Tefillah Meaningful

In the winter issue of your enlightening and thought-provoking magazine, you address the fact that Modern Orthodox schools are struggling to make tefillah meaningful (“Can Schools Do a Better Job of Teaching Tefillah?” by Steve Lipman).

Teaching tefillah must seamlessly follow and intertwine with talking about Hashem throughout the day. Where some Modern Orthodox schools in America are failing is in inviting Hashem into the entirety of their students’ lives. As one graduate from a Modern Orthodox school put it, “I couldn’t wait to get to seminary, where I could talk, without feeling self-conscious, about recognizing Hashem in my life.”

The teenage years are an incredibly opportune time to take connection to prayer to a whole new level. Unfortunately, this time is often overshadowed by the focus on getting into a university of choice, and sadly, talk of the Source of all success is lost. In this environment, a class on tefillah won’t cut it. For tefillah teachings to be successful, the groundwork of discussions about Hashem’s purpose in creating us and His involvement in our lives must be laid. The tefillah teacher must be the real deal, and the school environment must promote “God talk” in the hallways. Where speaking to and about Hashem is part of life, tefillah makes sense.

D’vorah Miller
Cape Town, South Africa

This article was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of Jewish Action.