Mishkan T’filah

The Reform Movement’s new prayerbook has arrived and we’ve been using it for about a month.  It’s not as much of a shock for us as for many other congregations, I suspect, because we’ve been using a draft version for a year and a half, since our 140th anniversary service, and before that we’d been using a siddur that I’d put together in a couple of versions over the previous 9 years.  My siddurim are more like Mishkah T’filah than they were like any of the previous Reform siddurim, so we’ve been on the way for quite a while now.  Yes, I know, the founders of Berith Sholom are rolling over in their graves…

It’s a beautiful book and well worth waiting for.  The joke, though it’s true, is that at Biennials and CCAR conventions we’ve been hearing “5 more years” for about 15 years.

Anyway, it’s here, and I found this link that had been forwarded to me by a member of the congregation before Rosh HaShanah and wanted to share it with you.  It’s a great little article from the New York Times about the book and about where Reform Judaism is and has been over the nearly 200 years of its existence, as seen through its prayerbooks.

I have a lesson that I teach sometimes comparing versions of the Sh’ma (central Jewish prayer affirming the unity of God) from 5 different Reform siddurim, starting with the little red book published in 1895, which refers to the clergy as “Minister.”  In those days that was an appropriate and respectful address to rabbis, who were also known as Reverend.  Hard to imagine!

For your enjoyment, some other links to articles about Mishkan T’filah (they’re .pdf files — I got these links from the CCAR website and include them here because that page will change with time):

Document Mishkan T’filah: Chicago Tribune – October 28, 2007 (PDF 44.25 KB)

Document Mishkan T’filah: B’nai B’rith Magazine – September 6, 2007 (PDF 684.60 KB)

Document Mishkan T’filah: Jerusalem Post – September 20, 2007 (PDF 43.66 KB)

Document Mishkan T’filah: JTA – September 20, 2007 (PDF 25.94 KB)