Our first gathering featured the sharing of delightful refreshments and a wide variety of torah reading experiences. The overall sense was that, while we may have different attitudes toward torah reading, we all consider it a serious obligation and a profoundly rewarding experience.
The discussion of "bimah anxiety" produced many views, including the view that if you practice right it won’t happen, and the alternative view that it can happen to anyone any time they read. But there was considerable agreement on methods that can prevent it:
- Establish a habit or pattern of practice; e.g., always right before breakfast.
- Study the meaning of the text to gain a sense of the vocabulary and grammar; use translations, commentaries. The trope, particularly “pauses” of etnachta and sentence end, can help to set the phrasing right.
- Use different copies for practice—differently arranged pages, different tikkuns, different size print, color-coded verses, etc.
- Practice starting from a variety of verses, not always the first.
- Review your portion with a "buddy" to gain confidence and identify flaws; have that “buddy” as your gabbai for your portion.
- Practice standing up.
- Practice once from the actual scroll and in the actual location before reading.
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