Using Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda’s Book of Prayers for Jewish Women and other prayers ranging from Psalms to contemporary verse as springboards to writing, Dinah Berland’s workshops on poetry and prayer will guide you toward writing your own prayers as poems and poems as prayers. Choose from one of the following workshops, or contact Dinah to discuss your group’s specific needs.
- “Calling Out from the Heart: Jewish Women’s Devotional Prayer” – What is Jewish women’s prayer and what makes it different from liturgical prayer? Using Hours of Devotion as a guide, Dinah will explore the tradition of tekhines (supplications) and guide you in writing your own personal prayers.
- “Prayers as Poems, Poems as Prayers” – Looking at examples from Psalms to contemporary verse, discover the essential elements of prayer as a genre of poetry and learn to write your own personal psalms.
- “Welcoming Shabbat and Rosh Hodesh” – Create new prayers for the Sabbath and the New Moon that will enliven and enrich your celebrations every week and month of the year.
- “Preparing for the High Holy Days” – Delve into the personal meaning of teshuva (return) and produce your own prayer booklet to use in private meditation during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
- “Poems That Heal” – Read healing prayers from ancient and modern Jewish traditions, and write a prayer poem for a friend, a loved one, or for yourself to aid in healing body, mind, and spirit. Gaining inspiration from the work of other writers, learn to write the prayers of your heart to bring solace during times of loss.
- “Miriam’s Song” – Celebrate with prayers of thanksgiving on the birth of a new baby, a wedding, or an anniversary, and produce a gift of poetry for any joyous occasion.
Not Remembering to Pray, but Praying to Remember
Some Thoughts on How Prayer Works
Jewish mystical tradition teaches that each of our souls is a spark of divine light that longs to return to the source of all light. If this is true, then prayer that springs from the soul – and from the soul’s suffering most of all – must contain within it the possibility of remembering that Oneness, the very deepest truth of our existence: As we pray – really pray, with all the pain and desire that springs from our true selves – we are compelled to recall a more luminous reality to which we owe our very beings. And this reminder, because it elevates the soul to its own higher nature, may be the mechanism by which prayer works. For who can remember that he or she is connected to the Source of All and not feel calmer and more whole, at least for a moment? And with enough practice, enough love of goodness, enough stripping away of the ego’s mask, maybe it’s possible to wake up to that truth more and more, and to be transformed by it.
Comments from Workshop Participants
Thank you again for your presentation on Fanny. . . . What I found really really amazing, and magical, was the “Fanny trail” – how the book survived all these years and tragedies. It is a concrete representation of Jewish history; a tale of survival against all odds, rising up again! Just unbelievable! The story also reinforced my own belief that things happen for a reason. You needed those prayers at that time of your life, and there they were! Really, your presentation was inspirational. . . . Thank you!!