The Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle wanted to create a flowing, seemless minyan that still allowed for real time, kavannah-building moments. From past experiences, we knew that our most powerful minyan moments occurred when the professional staff consciously stepped back and students were able to create a minyan experience that felt autonomous. At the same time, our staff saw the value in helping to craft and direct the minyan narrative.
Our initial experimentation with PowerPoint technology has provided some interesting solutions. During Monday minyan, our students are guided via slide show from prayer to prayer. This slide show also introduces each prayer with a short kavannah and designates a specific student reader to share this brief thought with fellow students. The kavannot themselves are either prayer-specific or they connect with the other kavannot of the day in order to explore or promote a particular message, theme or tefillah-related idea.
Although we are still in the early stages of experimentation, JDS staff have found that the PowerPoint sprinkles thoughtful student voices throughout the service without sacrificing smooth tefillah transitions and creates a “kavannah-to-tefillah dialogue” that simultaneously drives the service forward and deeper. By assigning various kavannot readers, there is the added benefit of increased student participation without requiring minyan staff to vocally “break the tefillah bubble.” Our goal is for students to sign up for future minyanim in which their own personally developed kavannot are displayed and used to direct the flow and open the minds of our Monday morning daveners. ♦