WAKE UP: Birkot Hashahar

What it Is

Originally said upon waking and arising, these blessings express gratitude for being awake, for being alive, and for being right here—who we are, where we are, as we are.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

99-121

What You Do

Find your bearings. Arrive and settle into the space.

WARM UP: Pesukei Dezimrah

What it Is

Before we enter the formal service, we have to warm up—warm up our voices, our hearts, and our prayer muscles. These verses of song, largely selections of psalms, give us the chance to begin accessing the inner places from which we pray.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

122-148

What You Do

Sing out loud, even if you don’t know the words.

LIGHT UP: Shaharit

What it Is

Shaharit, the morning service, begins with an appreciation for the ever-renewing creation of the world with light. Next, it moves to expressions of love—God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love for one another. It culminates in a message of redemption, and of the power of light and love to liberate us. The service’s centerpiece is the shema (literally meaning hear), in which we cover our eyes so we can listen attentively.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

149-158

What You Do

Explore the liturgy. Follow along with the congregation or stay on a word or a phrase that grabs your attention.

RISE UP: Amidah

What it Is

The Amidah is the liturgical pinnacle of every service. For those who are able, it is said standing. The Amidah captures Judaism’s main modes of prayer: praise of God, petition from God, and gratitude for God and God’s world. The Shabbat morning Amidah also offers a sanctification of the holiness of this day of rest.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

159-166

What You Do

Take a moment for yourself. Get in touch with where you’re at, with what you appreciate, and with what you need.

LISTEN UP: Torah Service

What it Is

We now recreate the experience of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. Each person in the congregation becomes a recipient of a new form of divine revelation, listening to the ancient words and incorporating their messages into our lives, communities, and understanding of our world. The Torah service also has space for blessing particular occasions or moments, including celebrating milestones and praying for those in need of healing.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

168-184

What You Do

Read along with the communal recitation. Peruse the commentaries. Experience the joyous celebrations.

MAKE UP: Musaf

What it Is

The Musaf service is the extra service added on Shabbat, festivals, holidays, and other sanctified times. It gives us a second chance at expressing what is in our hearts. Most of the musaf service is comprised of an additional Amidah, similar to the Shaharit Amidah but heavier on animal sacrifice language.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

185-192

What You Do

Same as the shaharit Amidah, but you get to do it again, so don’t hold back.

WRAP UP: Closing Blessings

What it Is

An orientation of prayer isn’t something we flip the switch and turn off or on. The closing blessings help us move from a mode of prayer back into the mode of Shabbat, taking with us the fullness of what we experienced during the service into the rest of our day and lives. This is also the moment when people say the Mourner’s Kaddish for those they have lost.

Where it Is (Siddur Lev Shalem)

204-211

What You Do

Breathe, sing, and smile. We’ve made it; lunch is near!

IN A NUTSHELL

SHOW UP

Each person, no matter if it’s our first or 100th time, changes the contours of the collective prayer experience. We pray most fully when we pray in community. Thank you for showing up.

OPEN UP

The goal of prayer is to access the places within ourselves that we otherwise cover up, and to connect what we find to the experiences of our tradition and the experiences of those around us. The first step is willingness to be vulnerable, to open ourselves up, and to take a deep and honest look at what’s inside.

SPEAK UP

Jewish prayer has moments of silence, song, and together. In all of those moments, Jewish prayer is guided by words, ideas, and emotions. These can be the words of the siddur (prayer book), or words of your heart; the experiences of our ancestors or our experiences here and now. Whatever they are, add your voice. Add your song. Add your prayer. Whatever you bring with you into this room—the good, the bad, the celebratory, the challenging—now is the time to let it out.