Learn More About the Conference!
By Abby Klionsky
What do these nine things have in common: Broadway musicals, nature walks, jazzercise, improv comedy, laughter yoga; reality television, blockbuster hits, and world geography. Stumped? I’ll help you out: all of them have been themes for the experimental min’yanim showcased at the ISJL’s Education Conference in the past few years.
On the Monday morning of our conference, we gather to pray as one group. The sound of 150 voices joined together in song is incredibly powerful. Especially for our participants from smaller communities, our Monday morning min’yan might be a unique opportunity to pray with such a large group of people.By the final moning of our conference, everyone has realized that the Education Department is looking to shake things up – to model ways of mixing the traditional with the innovative, to combine subjects that seemingly have nothing in common, and to bring excitement and dynamism to frequently low-energy activities.
All of these reasons are why we offer a new set of 5-6 experimental min’yanim each year. We want to create a prayer experience like nothing you’ve ever seen before – and to prepare something that will get your students excited about participating in Shabbat services or Religious School t’fila. Whether by doing exercises inspired by the morning prayers (Jewzercise Min’yan) or by placing a rose in each of your 10 favorite blessings from the Amidah (Full Scripted? The Reality TV Min’yan), the min’yanim we debut on Tuesday morning are as experiential as they are experimental. Each one demands your participation in different ways, whether you’re creating an on-the-spot acrostic inspired by the Ash’rei prayer (Whose Min’yan is it Anyway?) or singing along to a rendition of Hinei Mah Tov written by a teenager in Rwanda (Around the World in 80 Min’yanim).
While we leave the choice of which min’yan to attend up to you, we always encourage conference participants to select a min’yan that’s unlike one they’ve ever attended, to step outside their comfort zone. While we know that a silent min’yan might be as difficultfor a big talker as a laughter yoga min’yan is terrifying for a shy person, we hope that the min’yan you attend will give you some ideas for what you can bring back to your own community to make prayer a more exciting activity for your students.
So what’s on the docket this year? “Min’yan Wage: Praying for a Living Wage”? Maybe! “[I’ve got to be] a Min’yan Man: Bodybuilding Through Prayer”? Who knows! “Grimm’s Min’yan: The Once Upon a Time of Praying”? You’ll have to come to the conference to find out!