This program is made possible by the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, Central Synagogue, Park Avenue Synagogue, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine.
The training program is designed to:
What specific areas and practical skills will be covered?
The program is comprised of three main pillars:
Understanding the origins and the role of the Shaliach Tzibur (emissary of the congregation).
Understanding the structure and basic rubric of Friday evening and Shabbat Shacharit services (warm-up section, creation, revelation, redemption, closing prayers and songs) and the types of prayers (praise, petition, thanksgiving).
Learning practical skills to lead services.
Understand the ceremony of Havdalah and how to lead it.
Understand the basic elements of death and mourning in Jewish tradition, and how to lead a shiva minyan.
Provide sample service outlines and teach how to create a service outline
Provide sample Kavanot (intentions) for various prayers and teach tools for how to offer kavanot throughout the service.
Song and Davening:
Learn Shabbat nusach
Learn various melodies and settings for prayers and psalms
Learn various niggunim for worship, shiva visits, song circles, Havdalah
Learn basic techniques to engage others in communal singing
Engage in conversations around questions like “What does it mean to pray?”, “Why do we pray?”
Study traditional and creative liturgy
Explore personal prayer practices
How the program works:
Students meet online for instruction every two to three weeks, for 1 and ½ hours, over the course of 6 months.
Two in-person classes will be held in various locations: Massachusetts, Southern Maine, Central Maine and Vermont. These sessions will focus on certain practical skills, choreography, etc. The in-person sessions also provided opportunities for individuals to practice leading prayers, psalms and songs of their choice.
NEW!: Weekly individual or small group tutoring will be provided for participants to work on practical skills based on their needs (Hebrew, davening, melodies and songs). Participants in the program will be paired with tutors once accepted into the program, and will arrange tutoring times directly with their assigned tutor.
A pluralistic program:
The program is designed with small progressive communities in mind. While the program focuses on a basic and common rubric, it also hopes to address some of the most significant differences between Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal and non-denominational practices. To best support this aspect, cohorts will be divided into prayer book tracks. There will be a Mishkan T’filah-Kol Haneshama track, and a Lev Shalem-Eit Ratzon track.
The role of the home communities:
The support of the participant’s home community is vital for the participant to be able to get the most out of the program. The home communities serve as a laboratory for cohort members to be able to practice skills and tools (at various levels) within the culture and customs of their own communities. We work closely with the participant’s congregational rabbis to ensure both participants and the home communities are getting the most out of the course.
How to apply:
We can’t wait to learn about you!
For information regarding the curriculum and schedule, please contact Program Director and Senior Faculty, Cantor Sheila Nesis: [email protected].
For information regarding the application process, please contact Program Coordinator Liz Soloway Snider: [email protected]
Cantor Sheila Nesis has served congregations in Denver, Phoenix, and New York City and is currently Cantor in Residence at Etz Chaim Synagogue in Portland, Maine. She is the creator and educator of the Shlichei Tzibur Training program at the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. She participated in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership Program in 2023. Her writings appear in various Jewish publications, including The Times of Israel, Kveller, The Forward, and Ritualwell. Originally from Argentina, she lives in Cumberland Foreside, Maine, with her husband and two children.