The European Union for Progressive Judaism is pleased to offer a new prayer training course for lay leaders — Baalei Tefillah Europe.
Participants from communities across the continent are receiving a year of online training – and will participate in an in-person gathering in Brussels in December 2021. The programme teaches how to run religious services in the absence of a rabbi. Baalei Tefillah means Master of Prayer. Graduates will obtain a comprehensive knowledge in both the practical and theoretical aspects of prayer leadership. Among other skills, students will develop a repertoire of music and songs for services, receive tips and ideas for life-cycle events, and develop a sense of cultural heritage. By the conclusion, participants will have become confident in leading Shabbat prayers, both evening and morning, and other skills to lead services for life-cycle events and festivals.
After completing the course, our graduate lay leaders will participate in a virtual minyan. They will share a safe and sacred online space to practice prayer leadership. The virtual minyan will later be opened up to the wider EUPJ community and help inspire future cohorts.
By compiling notes, recordings, stories, and accumulated knowledge, Baalei Tefillah Europe aims to build educational resources for other communities and students, stirring up greater collaboration, exchange, and bonding between Progressive communities, and strengthening Progressive Judaism in Europe.
The training is participatory. Students will not just be listening to lectures. They will take turns leading and presenting. They will be given opportunities to practice, receive the tools and the know-how to transform their own ideas into actions, putting their own personal touch into future services and holiday celebrations.
The course is led and taught by Rabbi Nathan Alfred. A Cambridge University and Leo Baeck College graduate, Rabbi Alfred has spent a decade working for Jewish communities across Europe and Asia, in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Singapore. There will also be a series of guest lectures.
The course is taught in English.
For more information, please contact Jesse.Goldberg@eupj.org.
The participants come from all over Europe, from Finland to Portugal. Each has a personal motivation for becoming a prayer leader in their community. Together, they share a desire to help achieve the EUPJ’s goal of bringing together Progressive Jews from all over Europe.
Avigayil – Lev Hadash, Milan, Italy
“Born on September 3, 1967 into a multicultural family who transferred their passion for other cultures and languages, as well as the love of music to her. In the last few years, beside the study of biblical Hebrew she studied the Hebrew calligraphy to prepare for Sofrut’s studies. The deep study of the sign has helped her join the musical idea of the letters and words. Always being involved in the study of the liturgy in all its aspects, the opportunity to attend this course is a great way to learn and to be more directly involved in this aspect of the synagogue’s life.”
Yael – England
“Being an active participant in my local Jewish community is a big part of who I am. It would be a privilege to assist my local synagogue with leading weekly services in support of the rabbi or chazan. I am the Mother of two wonderful little boys; I want to be a good role model, encouraging and supporting them in their religious journey. I am a passionate and keen student who likes to take study seriously. I view this opportunity as part of an on-going commitment to developing and increasing my contribution to the local Jewish community.”
Iiro – Reform Judaism of Finland
“I am 48-years old, the chairperson of the Reform Judaism of Finland, a father of three, and a university professor. The core values of Judaism, principles of Tikkun Olam and social justice are very central to me. Reform to me means living as a Jew in our modern world, autonomy of each individual in educated interpretation of halacha, full acceptance of patrilineal descendance, and equal participation of women and men in worship. Worship, prayers, and Torah study in my view help individuals connect with their core Jewish values together with others. As a small though growing community, we do not always have a Rabbi to lead our services in Finland. My motivation to participate in the Baalei Tefillah Europe 2021 Jewish lay leadership training stems from my desire to gain stronger skills to support our community to grow and become increasingly meaningful to the members, and others interested in Reform Judaism, in Finland.”
Marianne – Association des Juifs Libéraux de Toulouse, France
“My name is Marianne, I am 21 years old. When my community proposed me to participate in this programme, I saw it as a great opportunity. Learning how the prayers work and how to lead them is a step in taking more responsibility for my community. I wanted to participate in this course because I think that it will bring me a lot in terms of practice and knowledge of my Judaism, but also that I will be able to share what I have learned here, in turn, with others. I see this programme in one hand as a personal enrichment, and on the other hand that it will benefit my entire community in the future.”
Mayaan – Association des Juifs Libéraux de Toulouse, France
“My name is Maayan Burroughs, member of La Maison du Judaïsme Libéral in Toulouse. I am a morah at our gan and an ESL teacher for children. For the last year, I have had the privilege of leading services of our young community, at least once a month. Bringing people closer to God, to uplift them and to inspire them through prayer is a privilege and a joy. This responsibility is the reason why I want to participate in this course to progress and get more knowledge, know-how and confidence to lead a full service.”
Julia – Sim Shalom, Budapest, Hungary
“I come from a family with Jewish roots, but without any practice of heritage or religion. Judaism always seemed like a secret mysterious world where I feel a sense of belonging, but also feel cut off from. The past 10 years have been an exciting and profound journey of inner exploration, while becoming a psychotherapist, researching and writing a book about family history, and moving back home from Holland where I lived for 7 years. Joining the course feels like an important step on a path of integration, deepening into Jewish cultural heritage and prayer in an open-minded, international setting. I hope to be able to share what I have learned with Sim Shalom community.”
William – Jewish Community of Lithuania, Vilnius, Lithuania
“I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania. My parents are of a different origin, my mother is Jewish and my father is catholic. Since I was a teenager I started to participate in activities of the Jewish community. I joined a youth organisation. I volunteered in summer camps. When I was 16 years old I made Aliyah to Israel. Studied two years in high school and joined the IDF. After three years in military service, I worked in tourism in the Israel hotel industry. I spent ten years in Israel and decided to relocate to my hometown Vilnius, Lithuania. Since I came back I took a course for tour guides and worked for a tourist company. Now after 12 years working as a professional tour guide I started work in the Jewish community as a project manager. I am married, and have 4 children. “
Batsheva – Association des Juifs Libéraux de Toulouse, France
“I was born and grew up in France in a Catholic family. I studied marketing and then English but after teaching for five years I finally chose to be a librarian. I currently work in a public professional High school. I am also a mother of three children, a daughter, who is a nurse, and two sons. My family is inter-faith and multi ethnic. I converted in 2011 after seven years of private practice just like anusim. I want to join the course because I love singing at the service and want to be able to step in when the Rabbi is not there just in case my help is needed.”
Mikael – International Jewish Centre, Brussels, Belgium
“I was born in Sweden where I was very active in the Jewish Community. I taught in the Hebrew School and organised Shabbaton for the Hebrew School students. Following my marriage, we moved to Brussels for professional reasons. We joined the International Jewish Centre in Brussels and both of our children have had their Bar/Bat Mitzvah with the IJC. I regularly attend services and I have started to lead on-line Shabbat services. It gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction to keep our Jewish traditions and to contribute to the religious and social activities of the Community.”
Paco – Agudas Achim / International Jewish Center, Spain/Belgium/USA
“I am participating in this course first and mostly, because it is taught by rabbi Nathan – who is the former rabbi at IJC Brussels and with whom I took many classes – he is a very good teacher. Secondly, because although the synagogues which I attend now are well provided with well-established gabayim (thus, unlikely to require my services) and while I know the Shabbat siddur quite well (through regular attendance to Shabbat services), I have never had a formal training in this regard.”
Check out a snippet from our first class
The course began April 11. Classes are two hour sessions conducted online via Zoom. They will take place every two weeks on Sundays at 3pm CET from April until December 2021. An immersive long-weekend experience will take place 9 – 12 December at Beth Hillel in Brussels.
As part of the BTE Programme, the course is having a virtual Zoom Minyan on the first Friday of each month. Stay tuned through our social media channels to find out when we will open these Shabbat Services to the public.
Applications for this course are now closed.