Why Jews Pray

With Dr Jeremy Schonfield

Classes & Courses

Jews have an ambivalent relationship to prayer. On the one hand it is the text with which they have most contact in the course of the day. On the other hand it is one that traditional Jews study least. So why do they use language to worship, if the words themselves are neglected? This talk will explore what the verbal medium itself contributes to religious experience, and how texts depend for their effectiveness on being both understood and misunderstood. Rabbinic thinkers implied that we should pray both hopefully, as though it will effective, and in despair, knowing that its effect is unknowable. We cope with the despair at never being heard, by using language in a unique way in worship.

Language, this lecture will argue, was chosen as the medium for worship because of its unique role in human experience. From children’s stories and the first words that a child speaks, to the texts that we hold sacred, language has a central role in our consciousness. Dr Jeremy Schonfield is Supernumerary Fellow of the Oxford Centre, and Reader in Jewish Liturgy at Leo Baeck College, London. His book ‘Undercurrents of Jewish Prayer’ (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization) was a finalist in the American Jewish National Book Awards 2006, in the category of Modern Jewish Thought.

Venue

JW3 JW3
Add to Calendar 23/01/2020 19:30:00 23/01/2020 19:30:00 Why Jews Pray Jews have an ambivalent relationship to prayer. On the one hand it is the text with which they have most contact in the course of the day. On the other hand it is one that traditional Jews study least. So why do they use language to worship, if the words themselves are neglected? This talk will explore what the verbal medium itself contributes to religious experience, and how texts depend for their effectiveness on being both understood and misunderstood. JW3 JW3 DD/MM/YYYY

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