The Amidah Prayer (part one)

In this resource, we will learn about the Amidah prayer, including its characteristics and structure and why it is the central prayer in Judaism.

Resource Ages: 12-14


  1. Blessing of the Ancestors

My God, open my lips, and my mouth will speak Your praises. Blessed are You Adonai, our God, and  God of our ancestors, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob. The great, the mighty and the awesome God who bestows lovingkindness, Creator of all. God recalls the kindness of our ancestors and will bring the redeemer to their children’s children, for God’s name’s sake, with love. Sovereign, helper, savior and shield.  Blessed are You Adonai, Shield of Abraham.

2. Blessing of Might
You are mighty forever, Adonai, You give life to the dead – great is Your saving power.
(summer) Who causes the dew to fall
(winter) Who causes the winds to blow and the rain to fall.
You sustain the living with loving-kindness. You give life to the dead with great compassion. You support the fallen, heal the ill and release those bound. You fulfill Your faithfulness to those who sleep in the ground. Who is like You, Master of [all] powers, Sovereign, Who causes death and gives life and causes salvation to sprout
You are trustworthy to give life to the dead. Blessed are You Adonai, Who gives life to the dead.

3. Blessing of Holiness
You are holy, and Your name is holy, and Your holy ones will praise You every day, forever. Blessed are You Adonai the Holy God.

4. Blessing of Knowledge
You graciously bestow knowledge to humans, and teach them understanding. Graciously bestow upon us from Yourself wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Blessed are You Adonai, Who graciously bestows knowledge.

5. Blessing of Repentance
Return us, our Father, to Your Torah and draw us near, our Sovereign, to Your service, and bring us back to complete repentance before You. Blessed are You Adonai, Who welcomes repentance.

6. Blessing of Forgiveness
Forgive us, our Father, for we have sinned. Pardon us, our Sovereign, for we have transgressed.  For You are a good and forgiving God. Blessed are You Adonai, gracious and forgiving.

7. Blessing of Redemption
Behold, please, our affliction and fight our battle, and speedily redeem us with a complete redemption, for Your name. For You God, are a mighty redeemer.  Blessed are You Adonai, Redeemer of Israel.

8. Blessing of Healing
Heal us, Adonai, and we will be healed. Save us and we will be saved, for You are our glory. And bring a cure and healing for all of our ailments, and all our pains, and all our wounds for, Adonai, You are a compassionate and faithful healer. Blessed are You Adonai, Who heals God’s people, Israel.

9. Blessing of Years
Bless us, Adonai, our God, make this a blessed year and all types of its produce for good and
[In Summer:]  Grant blessing
[In Winter:]
Grant dew and rain for blessing
upon the earth, satisfy us with its abundance and  bless our year as the best of years. Blessed are You Adonai, Who blesses the years.

10. Blessing of the gathering of the exiles
Sound a great Shofar, for our freedom and raise a flag to gather our exiles, and assemble us together quickly from the four corners of the earth to our land (of Israel). Blessed are You Adonai, Who gathers the dispersed of Your people, Israel.

11. Blessing of Law
Restore our Judges as in days of old, and our advisers as in the former times, and remove sorrow and anguish from our lives. Rule over us, Adonai, You alone, with loving-kindness and compassion, with righteousness and justice. Blessed are You, Adonai, Sovereign Who loves righteousness & justice.

12. Blessing regarding the heretics
For the informers and the heretics, let there be no hope. Let all evil disappear in an instant. And let all Your enemies quickly be destroyed. May You quickly uproot and crush the arrogant.  May You subdue and humble them speedily in our days. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who humbles the arrogant.

13. Blessing for the Righteous
Let your tender mercies, Adonai our God, be stirred for the righteous and the pious, and on the elders of the House of Israel and its remaining scholars,  and upon the righteous converts and upon us.  Reward all that have true faith in Your name, and place our lot with them. May we never despair for our trust is in You. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who supports and sustains the righteous.

14. Blessing for Jerusalem
Have mercy and return to Jerusalem Your city, May your presence dwell there as You have promised. Build it now in our day and for all time. Re-establish there the majesty of David, Your servant. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who builds Jerusalem.

15. Blessing for Redemption
Cause the offspring of David, Your servant,  to flourish and raise his horn with Your salvation, for we constantly hope for Your redemption. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who assures our redemption.

16. Blessing of “Hear our Voice”
Hear our voice Adonai our God, have pity and mercy upon us, and accept with mercy and favor our prayers, for You are God, Who hears prayers and supplications. And from before You, our Sovereign, do not turn us away unanswered for You hear the prayer of each of Your People’s mouth with mercy. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who listens to prayer.

17. Blessing of Worship
Find favor, Adonai, our God, in Your people Israel, and in their prayers, and restore worship to the inner Sanctuary of Your house, and may the worship of Your people Israel always be acceptable to You. May we witness Your merciful return to Zion. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who restores the Divine Presence to Zion.

18. Blessing of Thanks
We are grateful to You, that You are Adonai, our God and God of our ancestors throughout all time, the Rock of our lives and Shield of our salvation for each and every generation.  We will thank You and  praise You for our lives that are placed in Your Hands, and for our souls, that are entrusted in Your charge, and for Your miracles that accompany us every day and for Your wonders and goodness at all times, evening, morning and afternoon. The Good [One], Your mercy never ends, The Merciful [One are You], for Your loving-kindness never ceases, We have always placed our hope in You.For all of these blessing, You are blessed, You are exalted. May every living creature  praise You, God of our salvation and our assistance, the good God. Blessed are You Adonai, Who is Good, and worthy of thanks.

19. Blessing of Peace
Grant peace in the world, good, and blessing, life, grace, kindness, and compassion upon us and upon all Israel, Your People.  Bless us our Father all of us together with the light of Your countenance, For with the light of Your countenance, You gave us, Adonai, our God, Torah and life, love and kindness, righteousness and compassion, blessing and  peace.  And it is good in Your eyes to bless us, and to bless all Your people Israel, in every season and at all times with your gift of peace. Blessed are You Adonai, Who blesses His people of Israel with peace. 

Personal Prayer

My God, guard my tongue from evil, my lips from lies. And to those that slander me, let my soul be silent. And let my soul humble before all. Open my heart to Your Torah, and after Your mitzvot let my soul pursue. And all that plot against me, quickly nullify their schemes. Act for the sake of Your Name, act for the sake of Your compassion, Act for the sake of Your Torah, Act for the sake of Your Holiness. Answer my prayer for the deliverance of Your People. May my words and my thoughts be pleasing to You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

May the One who makes peace on high (in the heavens), bring peace upon us and all the people Israel, And we will say, Amen.

Foundations for Planning

Essential Questions

  • How do Jewish customers reflect Jewish values?
  • How does the idea that Jews everywhere celebrate the same holidays and pray the same prayers connect me to the Jewish community?
  • How am I an important part of my community?
  • How is prayer a tool for creating a relationship with God?

Content Questions Related to the Essential Questions

  • How does the prayer connect us with other Jewish communities?
  • How is the importance of community expressed in this prayer?
  • How can this prayer serve as a vehicle for the expression of different emotions?
  • Can this prayer be meaningful for someone who does not believe in God?

Background for Teacher

The Amidah prayer is the central prayer in the prayer book; in classical rabbinic literature it is referred to as “the prayer.” This prayer is also called Shemoneh Esrei, since it originally included 18 blessings (an additional blessing was added later on). This prayer...

Read more

The Amidah prayer is the central prayer in the prayer book; in classical rabbinic literature it is referred to as “the prayer.” This prayer is also called Shemoneh Esrei, since it originally included 18 blessings (an additional blessing was added later on). This prayer is said three times a day, as part of the Shacharit  (morning), Mincha (afternoon) and Maariv (evening) services. It is also said on Shabbat and holidays. But, on those days, the content is slightly different. Each blessing ends with a sentence that sums up the entire blessing. When it is difficult to concentrate on one’s prayer, the halachic recommendation is to try to at least focus on that final sentence of each blessing. The first blessings in the prayer praise God. The middle part of the prayer is made up of requests that refer to many different aspects of the life of the individual and the community: requests for health, rain, peace, etc. The end of the prayer includes blessings in which we express gratitude to God.

The Amidah prayer is said silently, while standing and facing toward Jerusalem. (In Hebrew, the word “amidah” means “standing.”) The fact that this prayer is said while facing toward Jerusalem reflects and strengthens the bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, as well as the bonds between different parts of the Jewish people. The prayer includes personal and national (collective) sections, but it is all said in the plural voice. This fact reflects the value of mutual responsibility: Even while we are attending to our own personal needs, we are aware of others, who have different needs of their own. There is also a place in the prayer where we can insert a private, personal prayer (next to the “hear our voice” blessing).

The first blessing in the prayer mentions the patriarchs of the nation. Some modern, egalitarian formulations of this prayer also include the matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Optional Hooks
In-Depth Discussion
Suggested Activities
Further Study

Ask the students to imagine that they are members of the Great Assembly (which formulated this prayer) who must write one prayer that will serve as the central prayer for the Jewish people for generations. The prayer must meet the following criteria:

  • Can be said three times a day
  • Can be said by every Jew in the world
  • Can be said by Jews in every generation
  • Relates to personal, national and universal issues
  • Expresses Jewish values

Students can work on this assignment in groups or individually and then are encouraged to share the prayers they composed with the whole class. 

As you study the Amidah prayer, together with the students, check whether it meets the criteria listed above.

Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.

  1. Why do you think that the Amidah prayer is the central prayer in Judaism?
  2. What subjects are addressed in the Amidah prayer? Are these topics that you would expect the Amidah prayer to address? What subject were you surprised to see mentioned in the prayer? Why do you think it was included?
  3. Is there a subject that you feel is missing from the prayer? If so, what is it? Explain.
  4. Some of the requests in the prayer relate to the individual and some relate to the nation. Why do you think that both types of requests are necessary — the personal and the national?
  5. Why are the requests that relate to the individual said in the plural voice? What can we learn from this?
  6. What values are transmitted through this prayer? Name at least six.
  • Ask the students to act out situations in which people come to make requests of others: from a good friend, a parent, an adult with some sort of authority (for example, a school principal, police officer, doctor, king or queen, president or prime minister). How does the status of the person affect the form of the request?
    Then ask: What is the appropriate way to request something from God?
    Explain to the students that there is a choreography that accompanies the start of the prayer: We stand and take three small steps backwards and then three small steps forward. Then, we bend at the knee as we say the first part of the first blessing.
    How do those movements connect with the scenes that the students acted out? What do they express? (Refer also to the requirement to stand and mention that the prayer is said silently or in a whisper.)
  • Explain the different types of blessings: praise, request and thanksgiving. Ask the students to study the blessings and to label each blessing as praise, request or thanksgiving. Above each of the blessings that are requests, ask the students to write “personal” or “national”, based on their own understanding of each blessing. Alternatively, you can choose a symbol for each type of blessing and have the students label the different blessings using those symbols. As a whole class or in pairs, have the students compare their answers. Discuss whether there are blessings that could fit into two categories (personal and national). Note that some blessings sit on the border between the personal and the national (for example, 7, 9 and 16). To what categories did the students assign those blessings? Why? What can we learn from what we discovered? What makes it difficult to distinguish between personal and national blessings? Discuss the use of the plural voice, which may lead to confusion between personal and national blessings. Ask the students to think of other examples of the use of the plural voice, even for individuals. What are the reasons for this? How do they feel about using the plural voice for a personal request? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this? You may want to use a table for this exercise.
  • Have the students pick one subject from among those addressed in the different blessings. Ask them to add a sentence or two, written in their own words, to one of the existing blessings.
  • Take a closer look at one of the blessings in the Amidah through the Amidah, part two resource, which addresses the blessings regarding Jerusalem and health and the ‘Hear our Voice’ blessing.
  • Take a closer look at prayers of praise, request and thanksgiving in the Types of Prayer resource.
  • The Amidah prayer has a particular structure: The first few blessings praise God, the middle part of the prayer is made up of a series of requests and the final part of the prayer includes blessings in which we thank God. Propose a rationale for this structure. You can also study the midrash below, which relates to this structure:

Rabbi Yehuda said: There is an additional distinction between the various sections of the Amidah prayer: One must never request one’s own needs in the first three or in the last three blessings; rather, one should do so in the middle blessings. As Rabbi Ḥanina said: During the first three blessings, one is like a servant who arranges praise before their master; during the middle blessings, one is like a servant who requests a reward from their master; during the final three blessings, one is like a servant who already received a reward from their master and is taking their leave and departing.

(Babylonian Talmud, Brachot 34a; English translation from

– Explain the structure of the Amidah prayer, according to Rabbi Hanina’s parable. Is his explanation similar to your own?

– Bring an example from your own lives of a time when you used this method.

– Why do you think that the Sages thought that this was an appropriate way to approach God?