Davening in the Dark Shacharit

Exploring Without the Eyes

Prepared by Ethan Feuer (Regional President '15-'16, METNY)

Program Overview

Prayer/Tefila, Religion/Education

30-60 minutes



Medium-sized room

Dark, Senses, Blindfold, Tefillah


  1. Have USYers understand praying from a new perspective

Materials Needed

  1. Blindfolds
  2. Siddurim



Ground rules:

  • Blindfolds should be tied so that you cannot see anything.
  • If at any time you feel uncomfortable with the blindfold on you can take it off, but please
    be considerate of your surroundings.
  • When blindfolded, you must listen to all instructions as they are important to everyone
    being safe.
  • This minyan is based on discussion first and foremost. Your participation will streamline
    the experience. So please feel free to share thoughts at any time, simply raise your

Running the minyan:

  1. Once they are blindfolded, bring them in the room and place them in a seat that was
    previously placed safely around the room so they lose cognizance of their surroundings.
    (BE SAFE! 5 foot radius!)
  2. Start by introducing yourself as the person who will be facilitating the minyan, and
    mediating the discussion

    1. Since you’re going to be blindfolding the USYers it’s important to create a
      comfortable, trusting, and stress-free environment
    2. If there is sufficient time an icebreaker may help put the USYers at ease
      1. Name, chapter, and favorite sense or what sense you could not live
        without or if you needed to lose one sense which would it be. (Allow them
        to get speak once they are tapped lightly on their hand)
    3. If they wish to answer a question, or share a thought, they must raise their hand
      and the leader will touch their hand, granting the opportunity to speak
    4. Try to set the tone that all outside stressors are released for the duration of this
      service to enhance the experience

Get started:

  1. Explain in a calm voice exactly what is going to happen for the duration of this service.
    Notes to touch on:

    1. You are all safe. There is a seat behind you at all times, but please when I ask to
      rise, please rise. Reinforce trust
    2. Very few Jewish teens truly get the opportunity to do anything, much less pray, in
      a completely safe and comfortable environment
    3. Your vision is being taken away simply to solidify and re-establish the purpose of
    4. I am going to speak softly, yet clearly, to enhance the atmosphere
    5. Restate: If at any time you feel uncomfortable, feel free to take off your blindfold,
      just please be considerate of the people around you
  2. For Birkot Hashachar, do the first half as word by word repeating and the second half as
    you leading and the USYers responding with “Amen”
  3. Discuss which they liked better and how they felt about having to depend on an outside
    power to pray

    1. Also discuss the prayer that thanks G-d for “giving sight to the blind.” (e.g. How
      do you feel now that one of your senses is now taken away? Does this line now
      have a greater meaning to you personally? etc.)
    2. Note: The USYers will stand at times, and they must constantly be reminded after
      every prayer that they are safe. If they wish to answer a question, or share a
      thought, they must raise their hand and the leader will touch their hand, granting
      the opportunity to speak
  4. Offer the opportunity for any USYer who feels strongly about reciting the entire Shma
    and its brachot the opportunity, but tell them they must remain quiet

    1. Reassure the USYers that they need not feel stressed because they are
      completely safe
  5. Discuss the blessing of Yotzer Or Uvoreh Hosheh and the imagery associated with

    1. Read the English and ask for each USYer to pick out an english word that
      meant something to them, or stood out

      1. What is the difference between “Yotzair” – “fashions”, “Borei” – “creates”
        and “Oseh” – “makes”?
      2. If, in the Torah, darkness exists before light (Gen 1:2), why does the
        blessing begin with light?
      3. The commentators and frequent studiers and teachers of Torah explain
        that darkness is a creation itself and not simply the absence of light. It
        was created before light as it states – The earth was empty and there was
        darkness over the firmament. (Gen 1:2). Therefore the blessing states
        Uvoreh Choshech” – “and creates darkness”
  6. For Shma, recite the Shma together and have them recite first paragraph aloud with you
  7. For Amidah, have them all take time to pray blindfolded
  8. Discuss the subject of a blind Amidah. Personal reflection. You can’t read the words on
    the page so talk to yourself, meditate, talk to G-d. Reflect on your night, week, month,
    year, or even life. Do whatever you need to do. This is your time to fully reconnect with
    yourself. I just ask that you remain standing
  9. Blindfolds come off for discussion. Take a second to blink, laugh, regain eyesight, get
    back into a circle
  10. Discuss how they look at davening differently now if time allows