The Annual Great Tefilla Conference Moves Online

“The Jewish People Just Won’t Pass Up the Opportunity to Spiritually Prepare for the New Year”

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הרב דוב זינגר
הרב דוב זינגר
צילום: הדס פרוש / פלאש 90

The Annual Great Tefilla Conference Moves Online: “The Jewish People Just Won’t Pass Up the Opportunity to Spiritually Prepare for the New Year”

For more than a decade, Makor Chaim’s Jewish Renewal Center has been holding an annual mass “Prayer & Devotion Conference” just before the High Holidays. This year, due to Corona limitations, the entire conference will be available remotely and for the first time, people from around the world can join in.

“Passover? - People immediately think of the Seder table. Sukkot? - The Sukkah comes to mind. Mention 'Rosh Hashana' or 'Yom Kippur' and we think: the synagogue. Unfortunately, for many, the mainstay of the upcoming holiday has been taken from us this year. More than ever, we feel the need and the responsibility to fill this need!” says Aviad Bezeq, director of Makor Chaim Jewish Renewal Center.

For more information please go here.

"The purpose of our annual conference is to get people to stop for a moment and prepare their heart. Just like a musician has to tune his instrument before he goes on stage, so too, we all really need to tune our hearts before Rosh HaShanah, but the pressures of everyday life just don’t let us do this. The conference affords us a safe space and opportunity to tune our hearts, to find the tools for internal spiritual development which can then express itself as meaningful prayer. This year’s pandemic has caused us to celebrate our holidays in different and strange ways. We usually celebrate Passover or Independence Day outside, hiking with family and friends, but this year we all had to move our celebration inwards. On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur the situation becomes even more acute. For many of us, this will be the first time we will have to encounter the “essence of the day” either on our own or in the street. This situation confronts us with numerous challenges regarding the length of prayers, shofar blowing, etc. In the past you may have found refuge in getting lost in a praying crowd of dozens or hundreds of people, but this year, it’s all about you!

Our Jewish Renewal Center (Beit Midrash L’Hitchadshut) is a pioneer in the area of prayer and prayer education. This winter, Rav Dov Singer returned from a very successful book launching tour for the English language version of his bestseller “Prepare My Prayer” by Maggid Press. When he came back to Israel and was diagnosed with Covid-19, he continued to inspire people to deepen their ability to pray, even from his hospital bed. As a result, many people from Israel and around the world have turned to us for guidance on how to somehow preserve the communal fabric of prayer during these trying times.

At previous conferences, over 700 people would gather together for an entire afternoon and late into the evening, taking part in 12 rotating workshops dealing with different aspects of inner spiritual development and then coming together for the climax - a mass spiritual/musical happening. This year we realized that we had to bring radical change to the way we would conduct our annual prayer conference. We began reaching out to some of the most well-known motivational spiritual figures in Israel to help us with this problem and we were pleasantly surprised by their tremendous support and cooperation. This is how next week’s five-day concept was created with rich and varied content from the very best lecturers such as Yemima Mizrahi, Racheli Fraenkel, Rabbi Dov Singer, Rabbi Yehoshua Shapiro, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed and many others, culminating with a mass “Hitvaadut” get-together featuring Rabbi Dov Singer, Rabbi Yossi Froman, the "Kleiner Band" and the special guest artist Eviatar Banai.”

For more information please go here.

“So far”, Aviad tells us “we’re getting great feedback and registration is in full swing. At the end of last year’s event, someone came up to me and said, 'I've been waiting for this conference for a whole year - I can’t even imagine Rosh HaShanah without it!" When he recently called all upset about the prospects for this year, he calmed down when I described this year’s online format.

We have always been the proponents of approaching Hashem as a group, as a partnership. Indeed much of the work we do with schools and communities in Israel and the US involves getting staff, classes, schools and congregations to view themselves as a “Chaburah” – a mutual self-help group based on the traditions in the Zohar and in many classic Chassidic works. For us to create a proper encounter via screens as opposed to face to face meetings, is not simple, yet we have discovered in many of our programs, that the special human genius for comradery can overcome these obstacles and create a genuine meeting of the minds, even remotely. Indeed, we have found many advantages in being able to reach out to new younger, foreign audiences, as well as being able to get new lecturers on board.

It is important to note that the benefits one can gain from this experience can last a lifetime and we have purposely lowered the costs to enable a wider participation as a public service.

We pray that this conference will be so beneficial to so many and will serve to provide the tools needed by our people to brave this challenging time and grow from this experience.”

The various workshops will be held via a special link to the Jewish Renewal Center’s YouTube channel on Sunday-Thursday | Sept. 6-10, with the main event taking place on Sunday, September 13th.

For more information please go here.

Please note that the event will be conducted in Hebrew and is held in memory of the late Judge Nava Danon and especially this year, in memory of our dear founder Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, of blessed memory.