New Play Hard Pray Hard Movement Launched to Awaken and Inspire Spirituality in Youth

Top Quote First Annual Event Featuring Former Super Bowl XXVII Winner Alan Veingrad held at Donna Klein Jewish Academy. End Quote
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL (1888PressRelease) June 20, 2015 - Hundreds of enthusiastic students recently gathered at Donna Klein Jewish Academy to take part in the first event for Play Hard Pray Hard L'Chaim, a nonprofit organization encouraging kids to find their purpose through a combination of sports, music, art and meaningful prayer experiences.

    "Infusing prayer into everyday activities helps children develop a sense of worth, connection and appreciation for their contribution to the world," explains Play Hard Pray Hard founder Rob Siemens. At Play Hard Pray Hard's first event, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament was followed by a powerful message and motivational speech delivered by a surprise celebrity guest - Super Bowl winner Alan Veingrad. A former offensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, Veingrad shared his personal story of success, spirituality and the positive influence Judaism has had on his life with the children of Donna Klein at Zinman Hall.

    "Being a former athlete in the National Football League and being someone who embraces Judaism, always developing and always trying to develop a relationship with God, I thought it was important for me to get involved and come and speak to the students about why the Play Hard Pray Hard message is so important," explains Mr. Veingrad.

    "Prayer is something that we struggle with throughout our lives; Play Hard Pray Hard is a new and innovative approach that engages children and helps them connect to prayer in their unique way," adds Rabbi Josh Broide, Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.

    Play Hard Pray Hard was founded by Rob Siemens, Director of Marketing for Siemens Group. Siemens was first inspired after his own spiritual awakening made him want to connect with his Jewish identity and deepen his relationship with God. While his strong Jewish identity began at an early age, it was the physical action of putting on Tefillin (small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with sacred biblical verses) three years ago that encouraged his deeper connection to God.

    In the summer of 2014, Siemens travelled to Israel to celebrate his son's upcoming Bar Mitzvah. As a result of the series of events that occurred on his trip, he felt even more motivated to attend synagogue, spend more time learning about Judaism and connect with his Jewish identity. When Siemens created the slogan "Play Hard Pray Hard" for his son's Bar Mitzvah, he was encouraged by positive feedback from friends and family and decided to search deeper for its potential. As a result, Siemens founded Play Hard Pray Hard L'Chaim, with aspirations to instill prayer into children's everyday lives.

    "One issue in connecting with prayer that many people stumble with is the Hebrew language. Oftentimes, it is this language barrier that can prevent one from forming a deep connection through prayer. Through this movement we are striving to infuse prayer into the things kids already enjoy: sports, art and music. Ideally, we hope to help them connect to the words and show them that prayer has the potential to support them in what they love to do," says Siemens.

    "Along with creating an awareness of the importance of prayer in our lives, our mission is to join schools, synagogues, and community centers with the Play Hard Pray Hard movement," Play Hard Pray Hard Director of Curriculum Shayndel Plotkin says. "We believe that just as focused and purposeful as kids are while doing what they love, they can use that same energy to connect to gratitude, personal goals and success."

    Play Hard Pray Hard's event at Donna Klein is the first of what Siemens and Plotkin hope to be many meaningful experiences. Siemens and his team of supporters and advocates for the program are hoping to see the movement expand nationally. Their goal is to continue to garner influential guest speakers, like Mr. Veingrad, from the world of sports, music and film to help spread their message to the world.

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