BREAKING NEWS: The Mishkan Balagan Continues

I’m a frequent poster on and reader of iWorship, a URJ listerve ostensibly extant as a resource for fellow synagogue ritual/worship committees. In actuality, it serves as a soapbox for the likes me and the people I agree with. And the people I don’t agree with. It’s nice. It keeps me off the streets.

Today, a new breaking development came to my attention via iWorship: Mishkan T’filah is literally falling apart!

To review, the editor of the sidur, Eylse D. Frishman, created a first draft the everyone hated.

Then the spent like a century editing and re-editing it.

Committees were formed and congregations began beta testing it.

It was printed badly.

It was printed badly again.

Then end product kind of sucks, in my less than humble opinion.

And now they’re falling apart. Yesterday, this came to us on the listserve:

Chaverim –

Have any of you observed any indications of the bindings on your copies of Mishkan T’filah breaking down or exhibiting evidence of early failure?

We are beginning to see some signs that the bindings on some of our MT (combined volumes) are starting to show damage, after about a year of use – use which is not even every week.  I understand that these books may experience some, er, less-than-kid-glove treatment from time to time, but I’m a little alarmed that they don’t seem to be holding up that well.  Anyone else noticed anything?



It turns out that poster A. isn’t the only one seeing this. Poster B. found the same to be true in her congregation.

Dear A.,

We’ve noticed the the exact same thing with our copies of MT, also the combined volumes.? I know we’ve sent the worst of our volumes back for … well either replacement or repair, I’m not sure which.? When we receive those back, we’ll be sending the rest.? If you need, I can find out exactly what and how all things?are being?handled.? Might that help?

This distress of the volumes is distressing, yes??



The same with C.:

A., we at XXXXX XXXXXX in XXXXX XXXXXX had to return ours.  In the interim, we used the paperback versions, printed for our camps.  Everyone  liked those much better–they were lighter and had all the same services.   We’re back to the hard cover versions now, but reluctantly. -C.

Since C.’s post, there’ve been a few more posts to the same effect. This blog’s good friend, Larry Kaufman is the only on the list so far to find differently.

But C.’s post contains an intersting little factoid, “In the interim, we used the paperback versions, printed for our camps.  Everyone  liked those much better–they were lighter and had all the same services.” The sidurim C. refers to are the same ones I got familiar with at Kutz over the summer. They claim on their cover to have been printed specially for the URJ’s camps. They are the same size and color, but have the kind of slightly leathery looking floppy covers like you would find on pocket size Sim Shalom, ArtScroll, etc.

But the story is a little more interesting than that. It is the theory of a few people (the few who care enough to have theories about these things), myself included, if for no other reason than it’s funnier than the alternative, that these camp edition MTs are actually the rebound pages of some of the more salvagable of the screwed up batches of the sidur! And now at least one congregation would be happy to just go back to that one!

Meanwhile, the camps don’t really like the camp edition because it’s too damn big for little kids to hold. My inside URJ source tells me that this year an ad hoc committee is working on a real camp edition. Glory Haleluyah! Amen. Selah.

Shabat Shalom.


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