The Prayer and Spirituality Institute

Dates To Be Announced

The Summer Institute is designed for adults seeking a significant religious and spiritual experience in Israel. The program aims to help individuals develop a comfort with their own prayer and spirituality while experiencing prayer in different ways. The program will explore prayer, its origin, melodies and tradition through experiential and traditional learning.

The Summer Institute will begin on Thursday evening with an introduction to the program. After dinner the group will walk through the old city of Jerusalem to the Kotel and discuss together prayer as a spiritual practice its meaning to us in modern times.

Friday the group will begin their formal morning study and prayer and go through a special session on prayer and the Sabbath. Preparing for the welcoming of the Sabbath and the Kabbalat Shabbat service will be explored with the teaching of the key prayers. The group will have lunch in the area experiencing the frenzy and joy of Jerusalem as it prepares to ‘close down’ moving into a different paradigm for a day of rest. The group will reconvene in the evening for Kabbalat Shabbat prayer and will be for Shabbat dinner.

Shabbat prayer will be held followed by Kiddush and a group lunch at Beit Shmuel. The group will then experience prayer and poetry in Jerusalem through the eyes of great Israeli poets from Yehuda Halevy to Yehuda Amichai. Jerusalem through the Psalms will be taught as the group goes on a walking tour through the streets of Jerusalem. Shabbat will be concluded with the Havdalah Service overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.

Sunday will begin early with sunrise prayer on the Jerusalem Hass promenade overlooking the city. The day will focus on prayer, commandments and reality. The group will then explore Jewish text looking at traditional and the reform perspective to prayer. Lunch will be in the Machane Yehuda market to be followed by a study tour of Jerusalem’s houses of prayer.

Monday will look at prayer and celebration of the new month – renewal and consecration. As we begin the month of Av we will learn about the role of the Temple, its destruction and the development of prayer by the Jewish people. Prayer will then be examined either from the Hassidic, Kabbalistic point of view or we will explore the renewal of Teffila in Israel’s liberal community. The day will continue with a tour of the Western Wall tunnel and discussion on contemporary realities in the Jewish State.

Tuesday will begin early with a trip to the Judean Dessert, which will provide a spiritual refuge, place for meditation, prayer and experiencing the wonders of nature and God. Morning prayer and study followed by a hike and study session in Nahal David. Lunch will be at the Dead Sea and the day will end with an optional visit to the Israel Museum and tour of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Wednesday will be devoted to listening to God’s voices focusing on feeling in the present and sensing ourselves and prayer. It will combine Morning Prayer, study, yoga and meditation. In the afternoon we will meet with secular Israelis and discuss secular Israeli’s struggle with prayer and religion.

Thursday will begin with a walk to the Southern Wall of the ancient city of David to conduct the morning prayer. The holy places, means of worship and expression of other religions will be integrated in a way to understand the others and their theological perspective. In the evening we will take a night tour of Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood where religion and religious practice has been caught in time.

Friday the program will begin to come together with the energy of creating ones own prayer and prayer book and preparing for our second Shabbat in Jerusalem. Once again there will be a focus on preparing for Shabbat with a new consciousness and understanding. The group will have dinner together at Beit Shmuel. The evening will end with songs, prayer and learning.

Shabbat morning will be at the Hebrew Union College where the group will share morning prayer with the future rabbis of the reform movement. This will provide an opportunity to exchange views on the needs of the Jewish community and role of the synagogue. For Havdalah we will eat, drink and welcome the new week reflecting on what we have learned.

The Institute will conclude on Sunday morning with prayer in Yamin Moshe, a morning review of what we have learned and discussion on the challenges ahead.

Issues that will be discussed will include:

  • Creative and alternative means of praying
  • Prayer and individual renewal
  • Text, music, silence and meditation
  • Shabbat as an experience of community

Each aspect of learning will be built to give a basic understanding of Jewish context and sources, while providing experience and practical tools to use in your spiritual life and community. We will learn the structure of the prayer book; three daily prayers; meaning, content and tunes of the Shabbat evening prayer; and prayer through song, meditation and yoga.