Dallas Doings: Beth Torah, DATA of Plano

Beth Torah introducing two calming services

Congregation Beth Torah will kick off 2019 by experimenting with two new services: a contemplative Friday night service and a Saturday morning yoga minyan.
“We live our whole week racing from one activity to the next,” Rabbi Elana Zelony said. “By the time Shabbat arrives, our minds are still zooming at their weekday pace.” Zelony added that people need help to slow down, focus and savor the worship experience.
“The rabbis of the Talmud used to prepare themselves for prayer by meditating for an hour first,” Zelony explained. “Beth Torah is giving this tradition a modern interpretation.” CBT hopes that by creating opportunities for centering and calming worship the traditional prayers will become more accessible.
The Friday night contemplative service will create a quiet space for self-reflection and relaxation. Participants will begin their experience with a walking meditation surrounded by soft lighting and beautiful music.
During Kabbalat Shabbat, worshippers can choose between singing the Psalms that welcome the Sabbath or a seated meditation. Sermons will be rooted in Chasidic and Mussar texts. Chasidic texts explore spiritual revival, and Mussar texts focus on developing positive character traits. Services will conclude with traditional Ma’ariv prayers followed by refreshments.
The yoga minyan will be taught by Debbi Levy, who also teaches yoga classes at the JCC and Temple Emanu-El. Participants will start their Shabbat morning with an hour of yoga before joining the congregation for the Torah service and Musaf.
No prior yoga experience is needed. All ages are welcome, although children need to be old enough to focus and contribute to a calm environment. Participants should bring a yoga mat or towel for comfort and wear comfortable but modest clothing, as they will be in the synagogue.
The contemplative services will be held at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11, Feb. 8 and March 8. The yoga minyan will be held at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 5, Feb. 2 and March 2. If the services are well received by the community, they will continue in the future.
For more information, please contact rabbizelony@congregationbethtorah.org.
“So many people are anxious and depressed today. Judaism is rich in traditions that help people cope with these emotions,” Zelony said. “By offering these two new services we can connect people to ancient wisdom through modern methods.”

—Submitted by
Jessie Taper

DATA of Plano expands

DATA of Plano, a community synagogue and Jewish education center, is expanding.
Established in 2001 and located in a shopping center on the southwest corner of Parker and Independence in central Plano, DATA of Plano has burgeoned from a small mom-and-pop style synagogue to an all-inclusive Jewish engagement center offering learning opportunities for Jews of all levels.
The current expansion project, which began earlier this fall, is slated to increase the capacity by at least 50 percent. The project includes the design and construction of an all-new dedicated children’s programming wing to house the Hebrew school and various other student programs. The plans also include an expanded sanctuary and social hall to accommodate the frequently overflowing crowds.

—Submitted by
Eli Nissel

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