Hillel Torah Students Complete Sefer Tehillim

post by Hillel Torah | Aug 11, 2021

Ten years ago, Hillel Torah parents Rifka and Daniel Weiss approached Hillel Torah with a dream. The year before, the Weiss’s had been moved by the power of communal Tehillim when their daughter Emuna Shir (Emma), became ill.  After Emma’s passing, Rifka and Daniel wanted to do something to keep her memory alive, while at the same time inspiring young students to understand the power of Tehillim. After a number of brainstorming discussions with Rabbi Linzer, Principal, and Tamar Friedman, Director of Judaic Studies, an idea was hatched to create a Tehillim program for Hillel Torah middle school students.

Aliza Rosenbaum, a middle school Judaic Studies teacher and 8th grade advisor, was tasked with designing and implementing this new program for the 8th grade girls. Excited to take on this mission, Aliza called the program Tehilotai, “My Praises,” in the hopes that the project would spark a personal connection for her students with the Tehillim they were learning.  Each girl was assigned a chapter of Tehillim to “adopt”- to say each day, become familiar with, and slowly come to understand and internalize. The students began by examining the literal meaning of the words and the main ideas of the mizmor.  Then, each student started to dig deeper, asking questions about the nuances of the phrases and researching various commentaries to find answers.  After much learning, it was time to make it personal.  Each student explored how her adopted perek related to her own life and then created a piece of writing and artwork to express both the content she had learned and what it meant to her.  These works were compiled into a book called Tehilotai, which was presented to the girls at a culminating end-of-year celebration.

Year by year, the classes of 8th grade girls made their way through Sefer Tehillim one student and one perek at a time.  This year, the 10th year of the project, the 8th grade girls had the difficult task of collectively studying the longest perek in all of Tehillim, perek 119.  Each student adopted 5-10 pesukim, with most of the girls choosing those pesukim that began with the first letter of her name.  After completing their learning and creating written pieces and artwork, they published the final book in the 10-year set, comprising all of Sefer Tehillim.  Eighth grader Avigayle Resis reflects that this project enabled her to “make a connection with Hashem and understand a prayer that expresses how much you love Hashem.”

For this 10th year anniversary of the Teholitai program at Hillel Torah, and the completion of the entire Sefer Tehillim, Hillel Torah celebrated with a worldwide Tehilotai Reunion and Siyum. The Tehilotai Siyum, which took place on May 12, 2021 via Zoom, was a celebration of 10 years of learning of which 10 years of students have now collectively been a part. That’s 150 perukim of Tehillim studied by more than 170 students! At the Siyum, members of the Weiss family, and students from various graduating classes between 2012 and 2021 spoke about what the Tehilotai project has meant to them.  The Tehilotai Siyum, with alumnae, current students, and staff joining from across the country and across the world (one graduate joined from her army base in Israel where she is serving as a lone soldier, another from her apartment in Florida where she is working as a physical therapist) was a time for sharing the power of Tehillim, and a time of renewed commitment to making Tehillim part of one’s life moving forward.

You can visit the Tehilitai page, https://hilleltorah.org/whats-happening/tehilotai/, on the Hillel Torah website to browse through the Complete Collected Works, hear the meaningful words spoken at the Siyum or even purchase the book: Tehilotai, The Complete Collected Works

Hillel Torah teacher Aliza Rosenbaum is “extremely proud of all of our alumnae from the past 10 years on their accomplishments” and feels “blessed to be able to share this milestone.” Hillel Torah Principal, Rabbi Menachem Linzer offers “a huge thank you to the Weiss family for making this dream a reality, and Mazal Tov to all!”