Prayer at SAJ
At SAJ, we believe that prayer is a vehicle for connection — to our ancestors and lost loves, to our own selves and souls which may feel lost or adrift, to each other, and to what is greater than ourselves, whether we call that “God,” “Divine,” or “All that is.”
We see prayer as an opportunity for transcendence and transformation. Through prayer, we recover hope and joy that may have been lost and buried in the business, stress, anxiety, and despair of the past week. On Shabbat, we pause — not to serve ourselves, rather to help us serve ourselves and others better and more effectively. Our prayers are intended to help us regain strength and focus for the ongoing work of creation and repair.
Our Shabbat morning service is a mix of congregational singing, torah reading, quiet reading in the prayerbook and moments of meditation, with an emphasis on song. While our prayers are recited primarily in Hebrew, Rabbi Lauren shares kavanot (intentions) or interpretations through the service to offer guidance and inspiration. Every prayer we recite in Hebrew is accompanied by an English transliteration.
Music is an integral part of our prayer experience. Cantor Lisa plays guitar, we have a music service about once a month with our Hiddur band, or we bring in additional singers.
Another unique aspect of our service is our torah discussion. Former SAJ Rabbi Alan Miller was the first to hold an “open microphone” during a sermon or d’var torah, eliciting feedback and ideas from the congregation. This history of participatory and reflective congregational learning is a point of pride for our community. Most weeks we hear from SAJ members after the Rabbi has presented her idea or teaching.
We use microphones throughout the service to ensure that everyone can hear. Assisted hearing devices are available at the front desk.
Children are welcome in the Sanctuary during services. At the east entrance of the sanctuary, there are toys for children to enjoy. For those moments where more quiet is needed or for those who prefer, children and families are also welcome in the East Balcony playroom, where you can hear the service, but the sounds from the balcony are not heard in the sanctuary.
Resources on Prayer
Prayer can be very challenging, both because of the theology of the prayer book and because the Hebrew may be daunting for those who do not have a strong background. Here are a few resources for those who wish to explore: