Before listing specific prayer offerings, it’s important to state our “why” and lay out an aspirational vision for what we hope prayer can be @CBS.
Transformational - “If only a person could pray the entire day!” (Talmud Berachot 21a). Prayer should stay with you after it’s over. If prayer doesn’t change how we show up in the world when we’re not praying, then we’re not doing prayer right. Most importantly, it’s not a show. A lot of people have been conditioned to expect a passive prayer experience. We’re not interested in the entertainment industry. For prayer to work well, everyone’s got to do their part.
Intentional - Let’s face it. It’s easy and common for prayer to become rote and for all of us to fall into the habit of checking the box, in the words of the Prophet Isiah (29:13), “k’mitzvat anashim melumada,” like the commandment of learned men [who already know everything]. Through education, meditation, and instruction on prayer techniques from our Rabbi, staff, and volunteer committees, we’re committed to keeping it fresh, and empowering those who pray with us to have earnest, meaningful prayer experiences.
Transcendent The AriZaL said that a person should first say, “Behold, I hereby accept upon myself the commandment to love my neighbor as myself” before praying. While communal prayer is often viewed as an impediment to meaningful prayer, our tradition notes the importance of communal prayer again and again. By coming to love others and pray together, we open naturally to possibilities of greater belonging and ultimately to relationship with God.
In this regard, inclusion is inseparable from prayer. We’re especially mindful of gender disparities in traditional prayer, and seek to create opportunities for active communal prayer led by women, while also working to insure that all of our prayer services are thoughtfully welcoming to individuals of varying identities and backgrounds. We continually seek ways to engage anyone who’d like to pray together with us.
Rav Chaim of Brisk noted that the prerequisite for prayer is tangibly standing in the presence of the Creator. Through education and leadership by example, we aim to foster an environment of security and sanctity that’s conducive to prayer.