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Enlivening Jewish Prayer in Our Times Through Dance and Movement – Community Member Post

ENLIVENING JEWISH PRAYER IN OUR TIMES THROUGH DANCE AND MOVEMENT
By Rabbi Neal Kaunfer, Lab/Shul member

 

I believe that expressing Jewish prayer through dance and movement to uplifting Jewish spiritual music could appeal to Lab/Shul participants.  I feel it dovetails so well with the the Lab/shul approach:  artistically-driven,  providing lively and joyful experiences, and interactive style all to help us create meaningful, personal connections to the Jewish tradition.

In about the year 2000 I became interested in the intersection between Jewish prayer, dance and movement. I was and still am uplifted along with so many others moving and dancing at Kabbalat Shabbat musical services on the Upper West Side.  At some of my own hosted Shabbat dinners when I played some great Jewish prayer music,  I noticed friends spontaneously get up and start to move and dance around joyfully.  It was all so natural.  Amazing!  This is what Hasidim did.  I realized then that doing this can be a powerful way to express authentic spiritual feelings in a Jewishly authentic way.  We all felt and continue to feel that this approach can be a direct gateway to feelings of transcendence.

After having those experiences in my apartment,  I wanted to bring similar uplifting prayer experiences to others. So I started leading some Jewish Prayer Dance programs at the JCC on the Upper West Side over a period of years.  I continue doing this there, at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism synagogue and at the Eylat Chayyim Retreat Center.

I discovered along route that expressing Jewish prayer through dance and movement has a long history going back to the Bible and continuing throughout the generations. However, for a variety of reasons it’s gotten lost as a spiritual practice.

I’m happy that I’m able to revive an older practice which is now attracting many people of all backgrounds, spiritual traditions and ages who feel comfortable coming together for spiritual expression. The best thing about this approach is that you don’t need to know anything about dance or movement or Jewish prayer.  All you need is an open heart and soul yearning to be free!  I teach some very easy movements which you can use or modify or you can move however you wish.

Please read my attached material and program Invite.  I hope you’ll consider trying it out.

Thank you.

www.jewishprayermovements.com    [email protected]

Click below for the full flier.
SAJ CHANUKAH FLIER 12-6-14