Ellen Allard has one consistent motive – to use music to infuse a love of Judaism “into the bones” of those who participate in her Wow Worship™ service. In a world where extraordinary sensory influences continually distract children and adults, Ellen has crafted a contemporary full sensory musical “Wow Worship™” service that is innovative, inventive, and dynamic while still paying homage to an ancient framework of Jewish ritual and worship.
Over the many years of working with families and children in worship settings, Ellen has composed a large repertoire of accessible, easy-to-sing, easily learned songs that have become THE most widely used family-friendly songs used today in synagogues across North America. Building upon rubrics familiar and long-established, each song is designed to deliver a rich experience that speaks directly to the spiritual wealth inherent in the ancient wisdom of Jewish tradition.
Music is the key component of Wow Worship™. Blending familiar and new melodies, Ellen invites everyone present to be fully engaged in the sounds, the movements, and the emotions that Wow Worship™ evokes. With song, laughter, dance, with memories of those who came before and moments of silence, with praises sung to God and blessings offered one to the other, Wow Worship™ instills a love, appreciation and understanding of Judaism into the hearts, minds, and souls of all those assembled.
Each rubric of the service is carefully considered and choreographed, from the opening strains of the wordless niggun that quietly transitions from the mundane to the holy, to the last note of the final song. Wow Worship is designed to provide an authentic, visceral experience for all who come together as a community to celebrate Shabbat.
Wow Worship™ can take place either Erev Shabbat, Shabbat morning, or during your religious school Tefillah.
Q: Who is Ellen’s Wow Worship Experience™ designed for?
A: As Ellen’s reputation as a leader of Tot Shabbat exploded, she began to get requests to lead services for older kids, primarily in religious schools. That was where Wow Worship had its’ first roots. That evolved into the Wow Worship Experience™, an intergenerational service for the entire congregation, young and old, on a Friday night.
Q: What does “WOW” have to do with a worship service?
A: Ellen began studying with her own private teacher, Rabbi David Kline, a retired rabbi who is a bible scholar and lover of all things Hebrew. During her first year of study with Rabbi Kline, they studied the Shabbat liturgy. This helped Ellen realize her profoundly deep connection to the prayers she had spoken since she was a child. With this new-found sense of “wow” that she felt, Ellen decided to create a unique way to engage older kids so that they would be wowed as well. Turns out that the adults who attend feel the wow too!
Q: How is Ellen’s Wow Worship Experience™ different from the Tot Shabbat Experience™?
A: The approach that Ellen uses in presenting the Wow Worship Experience™ is similar stylistically to her Tot Shabbat Experience™ in that it includes a lot of music and movement and stories. Her primary goal is to give the kids and/or adults an interactive, full body experience of Shabbat. By crafting a service that speaks to the hearts and minds of young children through adult, she offers a service that everyone can relate to. One of the primary differences lies in the choice of songs that Ellen shares in these two different services.
Q: How long is Ellen’s Wow Worship Experience™?
A: Typically, the services lasts for 75 minutes. This can modified as needed.
Q: Do the congregants use a siddur?
A: As with Tot Shabbat, this is hands-on, full contact Judaism, with no call for a siddur. A separate sheet can be created as well, including any Hebrew prayers (Kaddish, for example) that will be included in the service.
Q: What part does the clergy play in Ellen’s Wow Worship Experience™?
A: Ellen welcomes clergy involvement and believes it is a good anchoring part of the service if the rabbi and/or cantor is involved. Usually, the clergy leads the Kiddush and the Motzi, the Kaddish, and any special ceremonies like baby namings or anniversaries. During the planning sessions, Ellen and the clergy can discuss the role that everyone will play. Ellen also is thrilled and honored to sing with the cantor during part of the service.
Q: On what days does Ellen lead her Wow Worship Experience™?
A: The service can be done for religious school weekday tefillah or Saturday/Sunday religious school tefillah and on Friday night or for Saturday morning Shabbat services.
Q: Where does Ellen lead her Wow Worship Experience™?
A: The service can be done wherever your worship services are held.
Q: How are the kids involved in Ellen’s Wow Worship Experience™?
A: Ellen has a strong background teaching music and leading award-winning youth choirs. She loves to invite the kids up to the bima to participate and sing with her. It works well to have the music teacher or cantor prepare the kids in advance of Ellen’s visit. This creates excitement and gives the kids ownership in the service. They can then be invited up to the bima and each grade (or the children’s choir) can share “their” song.
Q: Can the Adult Choir sing during Ellen’s Wow Worship Experience™?
A: Absolutely! Ellen loves working with Adult Choirs. Music can be sent in advance so that the choir can learn the pieces, most of which are sung in unison with either simple guitar or piano accompaniment. Strong experienced singers are invited to add harmony.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.God Is In at Temple Beth Sholom, Miami, FL Sept 2015