Discussion Shacharit

Prayer through Deep Meaningful Conversations

Prepared by Jared Rogers (USY International Rel/Ed VP 2017, METNY)

Program Overview

Prayer/Tefila, Religion/Education

60-90 minutes



Medium-sized room

Discussion, Meaning, Conversation, Sicha, Tefillah


  1. To have a meaningful sicha within a service to help USYers feel more connected with the service
  2. To relate prayers to USYers’ lives in a way they will remember next time they are in a regular service

Materials Needed

  1. Siddurim
  2. Discussion questions printout



Introduction for Leader:

The idea of this “sicha within a service” is to help the USYers feel more connected with the
service. We are aiming to relate these prayers to their lives in a way that they will remember and
have more respect the next time they attend a regular service. Dissent and different opinions
are encouraged because they will show everyone a new side to things. Above all, this should be
an open discussion where no one is afraid to express his or her views. There is no right or
wrong and no one should be put down. These questions are only to guide the discussion. You
do not need to follow them exactly or get to all of them. If the USYers are deep in discussion
then this is GREAT. Do not interrupt them to move onto something new.

Birkot HaShachar (p.10)

  1. Have a USYer read the 14 blessings of Birkot HaShachar out loud to the group in
  2. In His image…(line 3)
    1. What does it mean to be created in God’s image?
      1. What is his image? Ex: Physical, mental, emotional, etc.?
      2. Potential response: we are all the same on the inside
    2. Does this idea also extend to non-Jews? Atheists?
    3. Why is everyone so different if we were all created in the same image?
    4. Why should we be thankful that we were created equally?
  3. Who made me free…(line 5)
    1. What does is mean to be free?
    2. Do you have the freedom at school to wear and say what you want?
    3. What was it that God made free? Did he make us physically free to do what we
      want or spiritually free to feel what we want?
  4. Sight to the blind…(line 6)
    1. Why are there still blind people if God has the ability to give them sight?
    2. Are there other ways to gain sight besides the literal physical sense?
    3. Do you think that your insight (conscience) is another form of the ‘sight’ that God
      gives to us?
  5. Provides for all my needs… (line 11)
    1. Why are there still people living in poverty?
    2. Should someone blame God if he/she is living in poverty?
    3. What does God define as our needs?
  6. Guides us on our paths… (line 12)
    1. Does anyone believe in fate? To what extent?
    2. Is God’s path for you to set when you are born or does it change as your grow
      and make decisions for yourself?
  7. Daven Birkot Hashachar together as a group

Ashrei (p.80)

  1. Read the Ashrei out loud responsively in English
  2. The Lord is good to all; His compassion embraces all (p.83 top)
    1. Do you think this is true? Who is all? How does God decide who is rich and who
      is poor if he is compassionate to everyone?
    2. Do good things happen to us only because of God’s compassion?
  3. All who love the Lord he preserves, but all the wicked he destroys. (p.83 last line)
    1. How does this contradict the line we just discussed?
      1. Potential response: The first line says God is compassionate to all; This
        one says He is only kind to those who love Him
    2. Is God compassionate toward the wicked also, or instead merciless toward hem?
    3. Should we only be kind to those we like? Is it important to be kind to those we
  4. Daven Ashrei together as a group

Az Yashir (p.92)

  1. Have a USYer read the prayer out loud in English to the group
  2. Questions
    1. Why do we say a prayer that is all about God’s destruction of other people? (I.E.
      the Egyptians)
    2. Should we be praising God for murder and therefore breaking one of the
      commandments? Does he deserve our praise for this behavior?
    3. Should this be a prayer? Do you feel comfortable using such violent words in
      prayers, which should bring peace and happiness?
  3. Daven Az Yashir together as a group

Shema (p.100)

  1. Have a USYer read the first paragraph of the Shema out loud in English to the group
  2. Questions:
    1. What is the first paragraph of the Shema asking us to do as Jews?
      1. Potential Responses: To love God, to teach Torah to our children, to talk
        about Torah whenever possible, to wear tefillin, to put a mezuzah on our
    2. Do you think Judaism asks too much of you or imposes on your life too much be
      demanding so many things?
    3. Is a person who obeys more of these mitzvot a better Jew than someone who
      does not?
    4. As teenagers, is it one of our major priorities to study Torah and attend Hebrew
      school, etc.? If not, should it be?

      1. Potential Responses: for most teens it is not a major priority, maybe for
        some it is; it probably should be a major priority but at least our parents
        are there to make sure we follow through
    5. What would happen if we did not follow one or all of these commandments? For
      example, what would happen if we stopped teaching about Kashrut (keeping

      1. Answers: Eventually our children would not learn about Kashrut and it
        would cease to be a Jewish practice
    6. Do we care if kashrut ceases to be a Jewish custom? Should we care about
      continuing the Jewish traditions that we ourselves do not follow?
    7. Why are you here today (at convention)? How did you get started in USY? Did it
      have anything to do with your parents?
    8. Why does USY place such a big emphasis on prayer and teaching? Does USY
      serve as a parent in this sense?
  3. Daven the Shema and V’ahavta as a group

Amidah (p.354-364)

The Shacharit Amidah on Shabbat is based around resting on Shabbat and observing all of the
laws and mitzvot of Shabbat. Based on this ask the USYers the following question:

  1. How important do you think it is to be observing the laws on Shabbat? Do you go to
    services every week? How important is it to keep the Jewish traditions going?

Do pages 354-356 out loud and then the rest silently.