Prayer is sacred and very personal. For some, prayer is steeped in tradition and for others it is a focus on positive aspects in his or her life. In Judaism, prayer reminds us of the days we worshiped in the Temple and often brings us together as a community. What is Jewish about prayer? Many things. A tradition, thousands of years old, it is as diverse as Judaism itself. Our daily customs and practices are often announced by prayer — the bread we eat, the wine we drink and the garments we wear. We pray for those coming into the world and for those leaving the world. And, according to the Talmud, Jews even bless G-d through prayer for both good and evil.
Prayer is not just for the religious and it does not have to be done only on holidays and Shabbat. J Doc wanted to know how the Orange County Jewish community prays, and this is what we discovered.
I meditate for a few minutes when I wake up focusing on gratitude and in the evening before I go to bed focusing on forgiveness. I also work really hard at trying to be a mensch and try to incorporate kindness into everything I do – as a living and continual prayer.
I am a traditionalist at heart. I say the Kriyat Shema before going to sleep and also focus on a Loving Kindness meditation around those in my life. I enjoy nature and make a point of thanking Hashem (my version) for the beauty that we have here in OC every morning. I listen for a living, so I would like to believe someone is listening to me!
My greatest obstacle to prayer is shifting my state of mind from a whirling calendar of responsibilities to a state of silence and meditation. Achieving a connection with G-d and personal mindfulness through daily prayer is no small feat; my elementary school rabbi would assure us that prayer is a “cumulative experience.” For me, daily traditional prayer puts G-d on speed dial as my emergency contact. My personal prayers are often pleas for strength and guidance in facing challenges, and gratitude for showing me through. Today my greatest spiritual guide is my 5-year-old son who is now learning the traditional prayers at school for the first time; it is his fresh perspective, questions and wonder about ancient prayers that imbues them with new life.
Karin, Mother and Scientist
Dr. Lisa Grajewski is a psychologist working toward licensure. She is a therapist with Jewish Federation Family Services and is a psychological assistant for a private practice in Tustin. Dr. Grajewski has been writing for JLife Magazine since 2004.