School JUMPs Into Tefillah

This Monday, Rosh Chodesh Adar, brought school-wide dancing, festivities, and half a day devoted to JUMP activities that focused on the importance of tefillah.

JUMP, the Jewish Unity Mentoring Program sponsored by NCSY, is a program that involves Jewish students in acts of enrichment and service in their local communities.

“To me JUMP is an opportunity to be a leader in our school,” said JUMP team member Jonathan Malove (10th). “It teaches me responsibility and how to put my ideas into action.”

The JUMP team, led by seniors Malka Suster and Aliza Posner, organized an afternoon of inspiration, interaction, and spirituality.

“We’ve been planning for this day since December, working out every detail, from working with the administration to which puzzle pieces to buy for our art project,” said JUMP Captain Aliza Posner. “The goal of today was not to turn everyone into expert ‘daveners,’ but rather to motivate and inspire people to question and investigate davening and make it meaningful for themselves.”

Students were addressed by keynote speaker Rabbi Zians of the NCSY affiliate of Palm Beach, whose animated speech captivated the audience. Rabbi Zians discussed the challenge individuals face finding a motivation to pray on a daily basis, and how important davening is to the Jewish identity. Rabbi Zians was followed by a “Debate Midrash” in which students openly discussed the purpose of davening and how it is graded in school. Once the forum for debate was closed, students and faculty made their way out onto the patio, where the final activity of the day awaited. Each student was given a puzzle piece to be decorated with one word about what tefillah means to them. The puzzle pieces were combined to create large puzzles, which will be hung up in the cafeteria as a mural.

The JUMP team chose to focus on tefillah due to the dynamic change in davening in the school over recent months. Although davening for the boys stayed the same, girls are now offered five distinct davening options instead of designated locations and a light curriculum. The girls can pick from silent tefillah, musical tefillah, learning and introspective tefillah, or participation in either the Sephardic or Ashkenaz minyan. Though change has been implemented and complaints have ceased, some students remain uninspired.

“Davening in general is a prevalent issue in many Jewish day schools, as many students are uninspired, unmotivated, and don’t see the importance of prayer,” said JUMP Captain Malka Suster. “For this reason, the national JUMP board challenged high school JUMP teams across the country with the task of positively impacting the tefillah programs within their respective schools. Taking on this challenge, our goal of the day was to shed light and broaden our understanding of the significance of tefillah through different insightful and fun activities.”

Many students said they felt that the program was necessary in order to strengthen the overall student attitude towards prayer.

“Monday’s activities were necessary because most of our school doesn’t know the significance of davening,” said Yael Sterenfeld (10th). “There’s no active participation.”

Students departed from Monday’s activities with newfound inspiration and appreciation for tefillah at large.

“I honestly loved it,” said Kayla Wolfson (9th). “I think that tefillah is one of the most important things and important laws in Judaism because it’s when you connect to Hashem. I think the program enhanced our school’s davening and taught many people what the meaning of davening is and how important it is to say it and not fool around during davening.”

By: Raquel Zohar (10th grade) and Hannah Mayer (10th grade)

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