45 and the WUPJ service review continues

Only four days left! Today is the 45th day of the Omer.

I’ll continue my review of the erev Shabat service I acquired recently, which was created for use at a large World Union for Progressive Judaism assembly. I began this review here and continued it here. This is the third part.

Today I’ll restrict my comments to this service’s unique treatment of Avot. As expected, this sidur turns Avot into Avot v’Imahot, as well it should. The way it does it, however, is unfamiliar. Usually, the first bit of a Progressive Avot ends up rather like this:

Baruch Atah, Adonai, Eloheinu v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu. Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitzchak, v’Elohei Ya’akov. Elohei Sarah, Elohei Rivkah, Elohei Rachel, v’Elohei Leah.

The only common variation on this theme is that Rachel and Leah often get switched. This method of changing Avot is pretty, good I think. “Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitzchak, v’Elohei Ya’akov” is a quote from Tanach and this method maintains that quote while asserting that we also recognize the role of women in the inheritance of Judaism and in the maintainence of the Jewish People across the generations.

The WUPJ service, however, does it rather differently:

Baruch Atah, Adonai, Eloheinu v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu. Elohei Avraham, Yitzchak, veYa’akov. Elohei Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, v’Leah.

I don’t quite see a reason for this. It doesn’t change the meaning at all. It doesn’t make it any easier to chant. It disrupts the quote. It just confuses everyone who is used the usual version without doing anything positive or substantive.

The next two sentences are the way they ought to be (“Ha’El… Elyon” and “Gomeil… hakol”). The next sentence is usually rendered like this in Progressive sidurim:

Umeivi g’ulah livenei v’neihem l’ma’an shmo b’ahavah.

This sentence traditionally says “go’el” instead of “g’ulah.” Go’el refers to a redeemer, while g’ulah refers to redemption. Go’el is an explicit reference to the Mashiach, while g’ulah is a reference to Eidan Meshichi, the Messianic Age. Fine. I’m a fan. The WUPJ sidur does this.

Usually, the words “livnei v’neihem” are left unchanged by Progressive liturgists. It means “to sons and their sons.” The WUPJ packet puts it like this:

Umeivi g’ulah l’doroteihem l’ma’an shmo b’ahavah.

It now reads “to their generations” instead of “to their sons.” I suppose it’s consistent, in a way. If we go out of our way to say “fathers and mothers” at the beginning of the prayer, why is okay to mention only sons here? Why not go all they way and gender neutralize it?

And now, the Omer:

5 Responses to 45 and the WUPJ service review continues

  1. Rich June 4, 2008 at 1:42 pm #

    “Baruch Atah, Adonai, Eloheinu v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu. Elohei Avraham, Yitzchak, veYa’akov. Elohei Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, v’Leah.”

    The fact that this disrupts the quote is reason enough to dislike it, but it goes even further. “Elohei Avrahaham, Elohei Yitzchak, v’Elohei Yaakov” implies how each of the generations had its own relationship with God, while this says “boys over here, and girls over there” by grouping all of the names together.

  2. davidamwilensky June 4, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    Agreed.

    To be honest, I prefer disrupting the quote to say, “Elohei Avraham v’Sarha, Elohei Yitzchak v’Rivkah…
    etc. This keeps the generations together and emphasizes what I see the prayer as: a name. It is us announcing ourselves to God. When I go up to the Torah, I’m called up as David ben Tzvi v’Gilanah, keeping my parents’ generation as a single element of the name. My attempt here is to do the same with Avot v’Imahot.

  3. Glenda June 4, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    Oh, yeah, I like the generational grouping much better. It’ll take some getting used to, but clearly worth the effort.

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