Guide to Leading Services and Giving the Dvar at Kehillat
Kehillat needs YOU! As a lay-led community, Kehillat needs 1-2 people each week to lead services and give the dvar. Don’t be nervous - everyone has their own style, and we’re all there to learn, discuss, and enjoy services together!
A full list of prayers and readings that are typically included in a Kehillat service can be found here, with page numbers and descriptions. Service leaders are encouraged to lead according to their own style, whether that’s infusing the service with more English, more Hebrew singing, mindfulness and meditation, stories, new tunes, or sticking to the old tried-and-true. You can also peruse the back of the siddur/prayerbook for additional English readings to add to the service. If you forget or are unsure of a tune during services, ask others to start or suggest a tune.
If you’d like to lead but need some training or practice, members of the congregation, including Roberta and Leon, are always happy to help!
Giving the Dvar:
Anyone can do the dvar! “Dvar” literally means “thing” referencing a discussion on something from the Torah. The goal is to both teach a little something, and to create some discussion. At Kehillat, the dvar can cover a wide range of topics, typically either a discussion on that week’s Torah or Haftorah portion, something in Jewish current events, or something Jewishly-related that you’ve learned about and would like to share with the community! The format is usually to first share something that you’ve learned or your own reflections, and then to lead the community towards a few points for discussion. Almost anything that will create relevant, Jewish discussion is an option. Be creative!
If you’d like to do your dvar based on the current Torah portion, just search “this week’s torah portion” or “this week’s parshah” for lots of links to various commentary from all denominations of Judaism. If you click the link to Chabad’s website, the “[this week’s portion] in a nutshell” link can often give you a good summary as a primer. Their website also has the full original text in both Hebrew and English. You can also visit reformjudaism.org and ajws.org for additional commentary. Each of these websites has a tab with a link to their pages on Torah learning. The AJWS commentaries are particularly social justice oriented. Dvar-givers often aim to connect the stories, themes, or laws within the torah portion to modern issues, current events, the Kehillat community, broader Beijing community, or personal experience.
Feel free to reach out to a board member or another member of the community to talk through ideas or to get feedback!