Prayers & Blessings

Learn the most common Jewish prayers and blessings.

Structure of a Jewish Prayer Service

Are you attending a Jewish service for the first time or just need a refresher? While prayer services vary widely from temple to temple, there are some standard prayers and rituals that most temples practice. From the warm up prayer (pesukai d’zimra) to the sermon (d’var Torah), this video guides you through all the different sections of a typical Jewish service.

This video was created by Rabbi Wendi Geffen and animated by Stu Hershey Sufrin at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group. This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service. This is the first in that series, rolling out over spring of 2018.

“Never having written for YouTube before, the process of creating this video was challenging and engaging. It was a thrill to consider relating a message and a lesson not just through spoken word but also through visual messaging as well. The ability to collaborate with colleagues in message and design was a real highlight.” – Rabbi Wendi Geffen

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

Pesukei D’Zimra: Jewish Warm Up Prayer

Every morning Jews warm up with a series of blessings known as the Pesukei D’Zimra. Learn more about this special warm up prayer with Rabbi David Russo of Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago.

This warm up prayer reminds us of the importance of prayer and that we should first become present before we pour ourselves over in the presence of G-d. Without the warm up, we might not take this whole prayer things as seriously.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group.This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service. This is the second in that series, rolling out over spring of 2018.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

What is the Hallel?

Hallel is a Jewish prayer that is recited in community as an act of praise and gratitude on holidays like Passover, Sukkot and Shavuot. Learn more about this powerful prayer in this video featuring Rabbi Josh Feigelson of  the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Hallel literally translates as “praise” and it is a way of expressing profound collective gratitude and praise to G-d. The Jewish prayer is comprised of five different psalms that all evoke imagines of transition, evolution and growth. First psalm is all about G-d’s power as creator. The second psalm evokes the historical experience of the Exodus where the Israelites experienced freedom for the first time from their Egyptian oppressors. The Exodus is the first instance of the Hallel. In the third psalm, we see a shift as the words center on the debt we owe G-d for saving us. The fourth psalm expresses joy appreciation and humility we feel towards G-d and the whole around us. The last psalm weaves together gratitude, memory and request.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group. This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Thank you to Joey Weisenberg & The Hadar Ensemble for use of Bina’s Nigun (Live) from the album Joey‘s Nigunim, Vol. III: Live in the Choir Loft.
Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

What is the Amidah?

The Amidah is the core of every Jewish worship service and refers to a series of blessings recited while standing. Learn more this prayer with Rabbi David Wolkenfeld of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago.

The Amidah includes three distinct sections. The first section includes prayers that praise. The middle section includes 13 requests. These requests focus on practical needs like health, and the ability to make wise choices but also more lofty yearnings for redemption and justice. These requests can change depending on the time of year or holiday. The last section includes prayers of gratitude. You can also include your own personal prayers anytime during the middle or end.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group. This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

What is the Birkat Kohanim?

The Birkat Kohanim is an ancient prayer from the Torah that speaks to our highest hopes for blessing. Learn more about this priestly blessing with Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality in New York.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group.This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

Shehecheyanu

There’s a lot of emphasis in Judaism on stopping to recognize special moments. Some do this in the form of a prayer or a blessing for the first time they are doing something new. Take a moment to learn this prayer, so the next time you find yourself in a first, you’ll know what to say.

What is the Birkat Hamazon?

Did you just finish a delicious meal? Now it’s time to say the Birkat Hamazon. You may know the tune by heart, but what does it mean? Learn more about this blessing with Rabbi Michael Balinsky, the Executive Vice President of the Chicago Board of Rabbis.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group. This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

Learn the Shema

Learn the Shema with this karaoke style video made by kindergartners and first graders with BimBam at Temple Sinai of Oakland.

The words they are singing are:

“שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד”
Sh’ma Yisra’el Adoni Eloheinu Adoni Eḥad.
“Hear, O Israel! Adonai is our God! Adonai is One!”

What is the Ashrei?

The Ashrei is one of the most fundamental prayers in the Jewish prayer service. Learn what it is, how it is constructed and what it means in this short explainer video. Great for students, educators and those new to regular Jewish prayer.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group.This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

Mi Shebeirach: The Jewish Prayer of Healing

The Mi Shebeirach is the Jewish prayer for healing. In this video, learn the meaning and rituals around this prayer with Rabbi Reni Dickman, the Director of InterfaithFamily in Chicago.

While the Mi Shebeirach is most often recited during a Jewish service, you can say (or sing) this prayer anywhere you’d like. It could be at the bedside of a loved one or outside in nature. You also can recite the prayer to anyone you’d like. They don’t have to be Jewish to receive your love and support.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group.This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

What is the Kaddish?

The Kaddish is a Jewish prayer full of praise that is recited during Jewish prayer services and associated with death and mourning. Learn more about the meaning behind the prayer with Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg.

While to many Jews, the Kaddish is known primarily as the prayer recited at funerals, that wasn’t always the case. Back in the day, after a rabbinic lecture, the rabbinic would freestyle some words in Aramaic. These words would later become standard and recited after any teaching of Torah. In the 7th century, it became standard to teach Torah at every person’s funeral and when you teach Torah you say the words of Kaddish afterwards.

This video was created at the Chicago Rabbinic Writers Lab, a program where 10 rabbis wrote Introduction to Tefillah videos in chevruta as a group. This series breaks down and explains major Jewish prayers so you can feel more knowledgeable and comfortable while attending a Jewish service.

Find more videos about Jewish prayers and blessings here.

Learn How to Say the Mourner’s Kaddish

Learn to say the Mourner’s Kaddish – Jewish Prayer of Mourning – with this simple karaoke style video that combines the original Aramaic, a simple transliteration and the English translation. The Kaddish is in Aramaic, not Hebrew, except for the last sentence.

Havdalah: Learn to Sing the Blessings

Havdalah is the ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat, the day of rest. Through blessings and rituals involving the senses – plus fire, wine and spice – we say goodbye to that special Sabbath feeling.

Sing along Karaoke style and practice until you feel confident on your own.

Thank you to our friends at Moishe House for helping create this animated “Birchot Havdalah” guide for their community, and to Debbie Friedman z”l for the music.

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Havdalah Blessings Source Sheet

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Shabbat Dinner Blessings with Moishe House

Get familiar with Jewish blessings and Friday night traditions with our singalong lyrics video created through a partnership with Moishe House and Taglit-Israel Birthright.

If you want to host Shabbat dinner at your home and you are not super familiar with the tunes or blessings, this sing-along Shabbat guide should get you up to speed in no time.

Music and singing by Isaac Zones. Narration by Sarah Curtin. All music here is traditional except the “Al Netilat Yadayim” melody composed by Ari Kaplan.

Made possible by the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund. Special Thank you to The Jim Joseph Foundation, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Righteous Persons Foundation and an Anonymous donor through The Jewish Funders Network.

This project was made possible with generous support from The Koret Foundation, as part of its Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood.

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