Seventh grade students create “visual t’filah,” illustrations for prayers the congregation will recite at their bar or bat mitzvah. The students create a series of slides that include a welcome, shalom, Torah, haftarah, and holiness. They are guided through this creation process with a curriculum that helps them learn what feelings the prayers and Torah and haftarah portions are meant to evoke and how they can use imagery to enhance that experience. Some families have found new ways to use the slides to enhance the experience, such as displaying a picture of a relative who has passed away during the parents’ prayer. Additionally, students work with the rabbi in a creative writing class to write their own iyunnei t’filah, comments or poems that relate to the themes of prayers they have studied. Guided by iyunnei t’filah, the cantor, and the rabbi, the students work to evoke similar feelings and expressions in their slides and writings.
The success of the visual t’filah and creative writing courses is due in some part to the collaboration of the cantor (visual t’filah teacher), the rabbi (creative writing teacher), and the director of education, integrating the learning and process for the staff and learners.
Grade levels: 7
Learners: Children (pre-B’nai Mitzvah)
This is an elective for this age range.
Year Implemented: 2011
Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel
Elkins Park, PA
B’nai Mitzvah each year: 55