Workshop helps enhance prayer experience


You are reciting words written by someone else and seeking to infuse them with meaning, to speak them with conviction.


Where are you? On a theater stage or in the sanctuary of a synagogue? Can the lessons of the former be brought to the latter?

September brings the continuation of a workshop series launched in June. On Sunday, June 3, and Monday, June 11, at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center in Providence, close to two dozen people made a start at this, in the first two of six sessions. The series, “Mean What You Pray,” is funded by an Innovation Grant from the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and designed by theater professional Jason Slavick.

Slavick, a writer and director, led the June workshop participants through different discussions and exercises meant to loosen the body and open the mind. In an exercise designed to teach something about the call and response between prayer leader and congregants during a prayer service, participants tossed a ball back and forth – not by catching, holding and pausing, and then throwing, but rather by keeping the momentum going without pause.

Founder of the theater troupe Liars and Believers and of JMS Coaching, Slavick studied theater at Trinity Rep and then taught at Gann Academy in Massachusetts for a decade and a half. He is also a frequent leader of prayer services at his congregation in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Providence’s Congregation Beth Sholom won the grant and manages the program, but the series has been designed for and has attracted individuals from across the community, some affiliated with a synagogue, some not.

The six workshops have been designed to build one upon each other. Yet they can stand independently. Participants can attend all, some or just one of the sessions and still gain something of value.

Workshops began again on Sept. 5. The fourth session will take place on Thurs., Sept. 13 and the fifth on Wed., Sept. 26. Both workshops will be held in the Baxt Family Social Hall of the JCC, 401 Elmgrove Ave., Providence, from 7 to 9 p.m. The sixth and final workshop has yet to be scheduled. Newcomers and returnees alike are welcome.

To register for one or more of the workshops, please go to: