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Making T'filah Meaningful

  1. Behrman House’s Commitment to Diversity in Learning Materials Has Never Been Stronger

    We recently received a letter from “Concerned Citizen,” an anonymous 8th grader from Boston, who noticed that in the Hebrew series Z’Man L’Tefilah (Time for Prayer) “every single illustration in the book depicts white people,” and urged us to do better than to present “a singular image of Jews.”

    The student is right. This series, developed in the 1980s by the publishing company A.R.E., is illustrated with small line drawings that present what could be called an Ashkenazic world view, a view that North American Jews are exclusively descended from the Eastern European Jews who immigrated during the late 1800s and early 1900s as they fled pogroms and other atrocities.

    Behrman House took over distribution of this series in the early 2000s, and while we regularly review already published titles, as a small independent publisher we do not often have the budget to go back and

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  2. Starting Decoding Later? Here are Some Tools to Help Learners

    Starting Decoding Later? Here are Some Tools to Help Learners
    Children who learn to decode just a year or two before their b'nai mitzvah need special supports to get up to speed quickly. Here are a few of our favorite tools for late decoders.
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  3. Making T'filah Meaningful for Your Students

    As educator Batsheva Frankel writes in her forthcoming book, The Jewish Educator's Companion (Behrman House, June 2017)one of the most challenging topics to teach is t'filah.

    "It isn't really about the mechanics of prayer - teaching the words or tunes. That's the easy part. More difficult is helping students find meaning in the prayers. How do students relate to the ancient language and imagery of the siddur? If they don't understand the

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  4. Rethinking Prayer: Moving from Words to Meaning

    An 8th grade student recently recounted to his teacher how he didn't feel a connection to prayer, even as he "put forth positive energy" to the practice. The student said he was searching for a way to bypass "the blockade between the heart and God."

    His heartfelt message offers a challenge to any educator, about how to provide students opportunities to experience both meaningful personal and communal worship experiences, while also teaching them the words, choreography, and melody.

    This student's remark highlights what many educators know: that while it's important to study the keva, the mechanics of the prayer, in many ways it's even more important to guide students toward finding the kavanah, the intention that gives meaning to the prayers.

    The soon-to-be-released series Making T'filah Meaningful draws on thes

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  5. Appreciating Miracles Through Prayer: How "Making T'filah Meaningful" Explores Mi Chamocha

    Teaching t'filah (prayer) can be one of the most challenging arenas in Jewish education. There's the Hebrew itself, the melodies, the when, where, and how of praying. Finding ways to address the underlying questions - Why do we pray? What do we mean with these words? - can lead to valuable learning as students become both fluent in the prayers and personally connected to their meaning. 

    Making T'filah Meaningful, a new series of supplemental materials, digs into those underlying questions to understand prayer in a new way. 

    For example, Mi Chamochaone of the 8-page booklets available in the series, explores the prayer as a way to help us notice the miracles in our lives and express gratitude for them. 

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