B’nai Jeshurun strives to be a kehillah kedoshah (a holy community). We work hard to fulfill our religious obligations so we may take part in the repair of God’s world in both the spiritual and the physical realms.
Prayer With Kavannah
Jewish prayer, or davening, is a central component of the lived Jewish experience. To pray with kavanah, mindful intention, is our individual and collective goal. The focus of this spiritual endeavor is Shabbat. Each week, Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services and Shabbat morning services attract hundreds of worshippers from near and far. Drawing from a rich variety of traditional musical sources, the BJ rabbis and hazzan create a treasure trove of song that deepens our communal prayer and adds layers of inexpressible feeling to Judaism’s sacred rituals.
“By making every effort to pray with kavannah from the bima ourselves (rather than merely “leading services”) and by pushing congregants to reach inward towards a genuine intention, people are moved in often unexpected ways. Only this spiritual intention can take melody to such heights and prayer so deeply within. This is why many people at BJ cry or sing or dance, or clap with every fiber of their being.”
Our Jewish tradition also teaches the value of devoting time each day, both individually and as a community, in prayer and contemplation. BJ’s lay-led morning minyan meets every day to pray together, joining spiritually with Jews worldwide, and physically as an intimate community of BJ members, so there are always at least 10 Jews to say kaddish during mourning or when observing a yahrzeit. The holy days and festivals of the Jewish year and the life cycles of our members are likewise marked in accord with Jewish tradition and with inspired prayer and music.
We believe that contemporary Jews who are fully at home in the modern world need to freely embrace a system of religious practice—halakhah—because meaning cannot be sustained without a consistent practice. We thus challenge our members to embrace the spiritual discipline of observance and to seek out guidance and support in this effort via study at BJ classes or at other institutions in the city as well as from the Rabbis and other members of the BJ congregation. BJ is a great place to learn about Jewish practice.