Rabbis Janet Marder and Sarah Weisman Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA We offered Making Prayer Real this year and it was a great success! The class members were very engaged in the topic, enjoyed having the opportunity to talk about their own worship experiences, and felt enriched by the coursework. They were eager to try the various prayer techniques introduced in the course and appreciated hearing from the range of Jewish clergy and scholars in the videos. The class formed close bonds and over the months of the course, built an open and trusting environment in which they felt comfortable sharing their questions, doubts, struggles, and achievements in their prayer lives.
Rabbi Greg Wolfe Congregation Bet Haverim, Davis, CA Teaching the Making Prayer Real Course has been an exciting, engaging and enriching journey for me as a rabbi. I feel that this course, with its innovative curriculum, inspiring video interviews and a variety of spiritual practices, has put many new tools at my disposal to guide those in my community towards discovering the spiritual riches of our Jewish tradition. The students are so appreciative of the opportunities this program affords them to explore and deepen their spiritual selves. We are having conversations about prayer and practice that I don't think happen in many other places. Perhaps, most importantly, the students themselves are given a path and concrete practices to realize the yearnings of their souls to live a life more connected to the Holy.
Rabbi Shawna Bynjegard-Bialik Teaching this class has changed the nature of the conversations with my students about prayer and worship services — my students are now more likely to share deeper insights, and to tell me what they find meaningful and what practices are working for them. It has changed the way they approach worship — they actively seek out moments in communal worship to put these practices in place and are taking control of their own prayer lives.
Our discussions are fueled by the experiences they have shared in our class, changing the way I approach worship as well. By engaging in the practices myself and learning along with my students, we have forged a bond that is different from every other class that I teach — there is a real sense of a shared journey. The videos give the students a chance to see the nuances in approaches to prayer; with so many “experts” it is clear that there is no right answer, and that opens up our conversations. My own prayer life has changed; it has put me more in touch with my own spirituality and has changed the way I think of myself as a prayer leader.
Sarah Gluck, Education Co-Director Temple Beth-El, Hillsborough Township, NJ Making Prayer Real offers both the novice and experienced spiritual seeker the opportunity to reflect deeply on how to access and find meaning in traditional Jewish prayer through mindful living and spiritual practice. Both the content and format are highly engaging. The interviews with rabbis, cantors, educators, and other Jewish spiritual leaders, together with Rabbi Comins' own penetrating commentary, have much to teach us about how to live a life of meaning and connection, leading us, ultimately, to discernment of the Divine. Our class discussions are always lively and interesting, and often deeply moving. We tackle serious issues, laugh frequently, and occasionally are moved to tears. The emphasis on the spiritual dynamics of prayer and the many practices offered have taught us how to pay closer attention to ourselves and listen more thoughtfully to others. Each of us has grown individually; together, we have become a spiritual community. Making Prayer Real has taught us not only how to count our blessings, but how to be a blessing, and our community is the richer for it.
Rabbi Charles Briskin Shir Ami, Bucks County, PA Making Prayer Real was much more than an extended adult education class. It helped me become a better teacher of spiritual practices; it helped me become a better practitioner as well. Over the course of the year, my students and I explored facets of and approaches to prayer that many of us hadn’t studied before. Our eyes were opened to new possibilities of deepening our prayer lives both within a structure of Shabbat services and outside of that structure as well.
The book, the videos and the practices together made for an extraordinary experience that enriched the lives not only of my students, but of me as well. I truly believe that anyone who participates in Making Prayer Real with an open mind and an open heart will be transformed.