39 and my review of a WUPJ service begins

Today is day 39 of the Omer. Only ten days left!

As noted here, I recently obtained a copy of an erev Shabat service used at a relatively recent World Union for Progressive Judaism convention. Today, I’ll begin reviewing it in little chunks. For some background on my overall feelings about Kabalat Shabat, go here. If you don’t care about that, plunge ahead with my overview of this service’s Kab Shab.

It is, in the end, odd that the entire packet is entitled “Kabalat Shabat” because that particular collection of t’hilim and piyutim are not present in their entirety, though some elements of Kab Shab are present. The sidur begins with Y’did Nefesh and continues with Yism’chu B’malcut’cha. The inclusion of Yism’chu in any Progressive sidur has always amused me. This paragraph comes from the Musaf Amidah, the additional Amidah recited at the end of the service on Shabat mornings. No officially Reform community I know of includes that section, but many take Yism’chu and use it on Erev Shabat because, well, they know a catchy tune for it.

After Yism’chu is T’hilim 150, Halleluyah (El b’kodsho etc. with all the insturments etc.), an odd choice for Friday night, given that everyone will presumably sing it again the next morning. As the most explicitly music-oriented passage in the whole Tanach (to my knowledge), however, it does make sense as an addition to this simulacrum of a Kab Shab, Kab Shab itself being an inherently musical venture.

Then we get Shabat Hamalkah accompanied by a translation from the Dutch Liberal Prayer Book, which includes the very funny word “boomtoppen.”

Then we have a really wacky little thing, which the editors of this service (Rabbis Stanley M. Davids and Yehoram Mazor) have decided to title Hadlakat Nerot Hashabat, which includes the brachah for lighting the candles along with some other poetic stuff Icould do without.

Then we have, shock of all shocks, something that’s actually in Kabalat Shabat in real life: T’hilim 95. Then we get Shalom Aleichem with translations from the Russian Reform Prayer Book and the Italian Reform Prayer Book (Benvenute, creature dell’Onnipotente, messaggeri dell’Altissimo etc.)

L’chah Dodi is next, but it is preceded by a little introductory passage from the Talmud from Shabat 118-119:

Rabbi Chanina once said: “Come and let us go out to greet Shabbat, the bride and the queen.” Rabbi Yannai wrapped himself in his garment and said, “Come, O bride; Come, O bride.”

L’chah Dodi is presented in its entirety, like Israeli Progressive sidur Ha’avodah Shebalev and new American Reform sidur Mishkan Tefilah. And yet I am suspicious. Did they actually sing all of it? In my experience, both in America and Israel, no one acutally sings the whole thing, despite the entire song being printed. if you read my previous post about Kabalat Shabat, in particular the part about L’chah Dodi, you know that I take issue with the two verses that deal explicitly with the personal Messiah (“Al yad ben Yishai Beit Halachmi etc.” and “Al yad ish ben Partzi etc.”) The translation given in this service is from Mishkan Tefilah and represents total ambivalence on the part of the editors. The translation for the first verse is accurate: “At hand is Bethlehem’s David, Jesse’s son etc.” The translation for second is more vague: “Await the promised one etc.” The promised what? This falls into the trap that Conservative liturgy falls into in a big way, presenting complete, traditional passages of Hebrew, with slightly off translations so that anyone who doesn’t know the Hebrew might think they are reading much less objectionable material.

Then we get Mizmor Shir from T’hilim 92 along with a Czech translation and then this so-called “Kabalat Shabat” is over and Shma Uvirshoteiha begins.

And now, the Omer:

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6 responses to “39 and my review of a WUPJ service begins

  1. I really like these siddur posts, by the way :-)

    The inclusion of Yism’chu in any Progressive sidur has always amused me. This paragraph comes from the Musaf Amidah, the additional Amidah recited at the end of the service on Shabat mornings.
    To much of the progressive/left wing, the “objectionable” part of Musaf is the prayer for the restoration of the sacrifices (as in the traditional Musaf), or even the mere mention of sacrifices (as in the Conservative Musaf). Yism’chu makes no such reference – it’s about God’s kingship and its relation to Shabbat observance. Incidentally, nusach sfard has Yism’chu in the Maariv amidah. (It might be the inspiration for putting it in Maariv because contemporary progressive Judaism is liturgically influenced by kabbalistic practices, including davening nusach sfard).

    an odd choice for Friday night, given that everyone will presumably sing it again the next morning
    That didn’t stop the traditionalists either. Look at Psalms 92 and 93, for example.

    T’hilim 95
    I’d think of that as an odd choice. It’s not the most flattering to the Jewish people. If your theory about the choices of inclusions they made are right, it was probably included because they like “Lchu N’ranna.” Did they include it in its entirety, or cut it off like Gates of Prayer?

    This falls into the trap that Conservative liturgy falls into in a big way,
    Well, in all fairness, the Conservative liturgy isn’t that consistent on that. Sometimes, they change the Hebrew (see Musaf), sometimes they change Hebrew, but not Aramaic (see the references to “wives” being separate from “the congregation” in the Hebrew and Aramaic prayers for the congregation), sometimes they fudge (as you point out), and sometimes they omit (see the entire Silverman siddur).

    Do you have any idea what the points of all these random-language translations (Dutch, Russian, Italian, Czech!?) were?

  2. I didn’t know the bit about nusach sfard and Yism’chu. Thanks for pointing that out.

    You, Elf’s DH, said,

    “T’hilim 95
    I’d think of that as an odd choice. It’s not the most flattering to the Jewish people. If your theory about the choices of inclusions they made are right, it was probably included because they like “Lchu N’ranna.” Did they include it in its entirety, or cut it off like Gates of Prayer?”

    Nice point. I hadn’t thought to look it up. Indeed, it is cut off. It ends with verse 7, though, now that I’m looking, I see that there are 11 verses of T’hilim 95. I bet you’re right that they have a catchy tune that they like to use here!

    You asked,

    “Do you have any idea what the points of all these random-language translations (Dutch, Russian, Italian, Czech!?) were?”

    Yes, I do know what the point of that is. Over the last decade or so, Progressive communities outside of English-speaking countries and Israel have begun to grow, some in places we never really expected for Progressive forms of Judaism to pop up. The point of this is to show off to the whole assembled World Union for Progressive Judaism what everybody has been working on!

    In the service’s front cover, there are cited prog. sidurim from the UK, Israel, America, Bueno Aires, Hungary, Prague, Amsterdam, Germany, Paris, Geneva, and Brazil. I also know of big pockets of Progressive Judaism in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Russi,a South Africa, and Australia!

  3. Pingback: 40 and Part II of my review of a WUPJ service «

  4. Pingback: 45 and the WUPJ service review continues «

  5. Pingback: WUPJ Kabalat Shabat review, part IV «

  6. Pingback: WUPJ Kab. Shab. review, part V (Modim and lessons learned) «

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