Archive | September, 2011

What if I did one-day yom tov, but went to shul on day two anyway?

Reports of my complete departure from the Reform ideological fold have been greatly exaggerated. I’m not backing away from doing one-day yom tov this year, though I’m tempted to test drive two-day yom tov sooner or later. But I have been thinking about how to attend a second-day RH service and participating as fully as I can–all without compromising my one-day values.

(Some background on an approach to two-day yom tov that I’m particularly fond of can’t hurt, so here’s BZ’s material on it: Israelis are lazy, “ONE DAY ONLY!” parts 1a, 1b and 2, ”Ontology of yom tov” and “Hilchot Pluralism, Part VIII: Simchat Torah.”)

Anyway, I’m writing this as I figure out how to do this. Here’s my thinking so far: On day two I could go to shul and the only two things I’d really have to do differently is say a weekday Amidah while everyone else does their RH Amidah and recuse myself from Musaf.

And since any piyutim and whatnot are just that, I could play along with those just fine.

Right? Does that make sense?

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Recent acquisitions: Chaim Stern’s later works; new editions of Mishkan; ‘Singlish’; a skinny red thing; and a Russian siddur with transliterations!

I got some new things! There will be more stuff on some of these later on, but for now, here’s the rundown:

A skinny red thing

This little Kabbalat Shabbat hardcover pamphlet sort of thing, quite creatively -titled “Siddur Kabbalat Shabbat” is used on Friday nights at Beth El. They got it because it has a basically Conservative liturgy, but it also has transliterations to an extent that Sim Shalom does not. They do this musical Kab Shab thing sometimes and I suspect they expect a less Hebrew-literate crowd at those services for whom transliterations are a welcoming feature.

Two new editions of MT

When I interviewed CCAR Publisher and Director of Press Rabbi Hara Person in her office for this story a while back, she also gave me these two goodies. One is the World Union Edition of Mishkan T’filah, which we previously speculated about here. The World Union Edition might be more correctly referred to as the southern hemisphere edition, as it’s mainly for the smaller anglophone Reform communities in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The other is MT: The Journal Edition, a new(-ish) educational version of MT that leaves the left side of each spread either blank or offers questions and space to write reflections.

I will definitely have more on these and more from my interview with Hara for y’all one of these days.

A Russian siddur with transliterations!

My mom went to Russia a little while ago and came back with this charming souvenir. There are actually Cyrillic transliterations in this thing! It turns out it’s easier to learn how to read Russian than I thought. That is, if you already read Hebrew. Because that one letter looks a lot like a Shin…

In the Hebrew there, it says “Tehilat Hashem.” Whether you know Cyrillic characters or not, it’s pretty easy to make that out in the transliteration too.

“Singlish”

These (left to right, top to bottom: Kol Nidrei, a bencher, Friday night, Shabbat morning) are part of the “Singlish” family of prayer books by Joe Lewis. I recently inherited these. They seem a lot like my beloved Eit Ratzon. I’m gonna keep digesting these and I’ll get back to y’all with more on them soon.

Chaim Stern’s later works

Neither of these acquisitions are actually all that recent, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about either one here.

Anyway, on the right is Paths of Faith. Chaim Stern created the draft that became this siddur to replace Gates of Prayer. The CCAR decided it wanted to go in a different direction and created MT instead. So Stern kept at it and Paths of Faith was eventually published elsewhere. Unfortunately, it was published posthumously.

On the left is The New Light Siddur, a siddur that Stern helped edit for a congregation in New Jersey.

OK. That’s all. Shanah tovah.

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Shabbat Notes, 9/24/2011: Dad’s visit; Gospel music in musaf

My dad is in town. He and I usually talk on the phone at some point on Shabbat to fill each other in on any particularly excellent bits of chaos we witnessed in shul that morning. He’s also a reader of this blog, so his visit would not have been complete without a visit to Beth El. He rightly told me that he approved of the level of chaos.


In musaf this morning, the Christian gospel tune, “Lord Prepare Me,” was on the march again. I’ve previously discussed the tune’s increasing use in Jewish worship here and here. I’ve encountered the use of this melody several times, though this use of it is new to me. Today Cantor Perry Fine used it for the musaf kedusha. Eschewing the usual call-and-response-and-repetition style, he led us through the prayer in unison to the tune of “Lord Prepare Me,” from the beginning–”Na’aritzecha venak’dishecha…”–through “Baruch kevod Adonai mimekomo.” Then we proceeded to the the tune of “Erev shel Shoshanim” for a while.

Also, I had an aliyah. More on why that happened sometime next month.

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New JTA piece by me: wave of new machzorim, updates on new Reform machzor

We had two new machzorim last year. This year, we’ve got another new one, a revised edition of another and drafts circulating of another major upcoming release. JTA has the full story, written by your favorite blogger:

New Jewish prayer books typically come in waves, the rarest of which bring new High Holidays prayer books, or machzors.

The current wave has seen five new machzorim in a one-year span. Following on the heels of last year’s release of the official Conservative machzor and a popular chavurah machzor are the first Hebrew-English machzor from the Israeli publisher Koren, a revision to Hillel’s “On Wings of Awe” and pilot tests of services from the forthcoming Reform machzor.

The Conservative movement’s “Mahzor Lev Shalem” was a surprise hit — insofar as a prayer book can be such a thing — selling more than 120,000 copies. More congregations are expected to adopt it for the High Holidays this year.

The chavurah “Machzor Eit Ratzon” from Joseph Rosenstein, a math professor at Rutgers University and a founding member of the Highland Park Minyan in Highland Park, N.J., is a companion to his “Siddur Eit Ratzon.” Though “Machzor Eit Ratzon” is not in use on the same scale as “Lev Shalem,” it merits inclusion here as a popular new independently published machzor.

Check out the rest of the article at JTA. There’s some news on the new Reform maczhor drafts in the article, but my interview with Rabbi Hara Person from CCAR Press was a lot more extensive than what I had space for in the article, so I’ll have more from the interview for y’all soon.

I also did a little sidebar that goes with the piece, a roundup of the year in liturgy.

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I’m busy. But here’s another trouble-maker’s blog for you to read.

If you miss me because I’m busy and work all the time and never sleep anymore, you should go read Laura Cooper’s blog. She’s like me, but more ritually conservative and less mellow (read: kind of like my writing here was two years ago).

An excerpt from a post she wrote today:

We skipped Emet v’Yatziv. Maybe that’s for the best, because I guess when you sing “Sim shalom, sim sim shalom” for twenty minutes at 40 BPM, you start to run out of time. And they sang this song in a sort of circle, under a makeshift tent of their pasul scarf tallitot. There was lots of clapping and lai lai lai’s and everyone was super excited to be there, but so are Pentecostals. That doesn’t make it right. It was the treifest thing.

Yeah. Go read it.

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