Sunday, October 10, 2010

I know what you're thinking. "what is an alternative learner's service?"

Because you follow our Twitter stream and Facebook page I am sure you are fully aware that we have launched a new Alternative-Learner's service at UF Hillel. 

Program Director Jeff has been working on a new kind of pluralistic service that invites students to choose their own prayer books and choose their own method of prayer. Here's basically what the room looked like.

There were a few more chairs and couches but this is basically what it looked like.  When students entered they were directed to select a prayer book and seat of their choice.  The goal was for students to have a shared Jewish experience strictly on their own terms.  For students that wanted something traditional they could sit in rows of seats.  For students that wanted to experience Shabbat in a comfortable way that subconsciously made them feel slightly removed as if they were watching this all on TV, we had couches and coffee tables set-up.    And for student who wanted to experience what an isoalted meditative experience was like we brough in the Pop-Up Sukkah.

Wait you don't know what the Pop-Up Sukkah is?  Watch this video.

So this was a shabbat experience.  We did not recite every prayer and sing every song.  For students that were looking for that kind of service we have reform and conservative minyans.  This service was about learning about prayer, writing our own prayers, and discussing the weekly Torah portion as a group.  We sang and danced out on the street and through the building.  After the service several students approached me and expressed gratitude for having a service like this.  They shared comments such as:  that they really felt connected for the first time in a long time, the dancing made a huge difference in celebrating the welcoming of Shabbat, and they learned a whole new way to view the Torah. 

Last week we discussed the many creation stories from around the world.  We then compared those stories to our own story in Genesis.  Then we looked at modern geology and earth science.  I don't want to ruin the surprise for you but the Torah is in sync with the process of creation from a geologic perspective.  The time tables don't work out so conveniently, That's why we bring in Gerald Schroeder, the 2 time PhD from MIT in Nuclear Physics and Earth Sciences.  Here is what he says. 

This week we examined the various flood stories from around the world, compared Noah to Abraham and Joseph, and talked a little bit about the month of Cheshvan that we just entered. 

We plan on having services like these at least twice a month for now.  Depending on interest this may increase.  To contact Jeff about questions or to get involved with this service or any of our services email him

No comments:

Post a Comment