My dream is coming true

I have long wanted to live in a world in which all new works of Jewish liturgy have their own trailers on YouTube. So here’s the second one I’ve discovered.

Watch out for the part where one of the editors of Mahzor Lev Shalem tries to co-opt a Reform tagline and claims, despite the lack of a complete transliteration in MLS, “This is a big-tent machzor.”

It’s also mad long and not nearly as cool as the Koren Soloveitchik siddur trailer.

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57 responses to “My dream is coming true

  1. David,

    Can you explain the Conservative movements problem with transliteration? My wife just can’t get past that. And in fact, I don’t blame her because while I can read Hebrew and am mostly familiar with the standard stuff, sometimes I can’t keep up. Are they just trying to get people off the crutch?

    One man’s crutch is another man’s training wheels.

    It can’t be a halakhic thing, right—ArtScroll has a transliterated one…

    • I think their oldest argument was that all of their people were goo enough at being Jews that they didn’t need it.

      Then, I think switched to it being a crutch.

      Now, they offer transliterations, but only for things that think are likely to be said aloud by the entire congregation. Which involves a lot of ridiculous assumptions.

  2. Did I miss something, or are most of the men filmed in the trailer not wearing kipot?

  3. Watch out for the part where one of the editors of Mahzor Lev Shalem tries to co-opt a Reform tagline and claims, despite the lack of a complete transliteration in MLS, “This is a big-tent machzor.”

    That’s not actually what R. Feld (senior editor) says. What he is says is “I think what this book represents is conservative Judaism as a big tent, and welcoming everybody into the tent, and making it as wide as possible so that everybody feels comfortable.” I took that to refer to the inclusion of prayers for those with abusive parents, those who are depressed, etc. I he may also feel that Conservative synagogues today have a wide range from Traditionalist/Conservadox to nearly Reform.

    However, I think the claim is somewhat unjustified — not only because it lacks helps (such as transliteration) for beginners — but also because it falls halachically short (e.g., only 70 shofar blasts for RH.)

    • Yes. It doesn’t go far enough on the right–not enough shofar blasts for you–and it doesn’t go far enough on the left–lacks a complete transliteration. Yet, as Larry Kaufman is fond of pointing out here, no siddur will make every single person totally happy. All in all, though, I like MLS.

    • Any more than the basic 30 shofar blasts isn’t a “halachic” issue – it’s just minhag.

      • It is a little weird to discuss halacha on David’s blog — but just to clear this up:

        True, 30 shofar blasts is the minimum, and 100 (or 101) shofar blasts are “just minhag.” (And, of course, Yemenite Jews don’t follows this minhag.) But minhag (used in its technical sense — not in its slang sense as “custom”) is halacha.

        In the same way, the second day of Rosh Hashana is “just minhag.” (As you may know, there is no definitive statement in Tractate Rosh Hashanah on the topic: the Bavli quotes R. Simon as saying celebrating a second day was the custom in Yavneh; while the Yerusalami says that the Mishnaic reference to two days of Rosh Hashanah refers to two consecutive years. The bottom line is that two days of RH is “just minhag.”)

        Despite being “just minhag”, two days of Rosh Hashana is a minhag binding on most observant Ashkenazi and Sephardi congregations — and virtually all Conservative congregations that I know.

        What would be the reason for changing the minhag of 100 (or 101) shofar blasts? Sure, it might make the service slightly shorter — but if that is the rationale, there is much more reason for dropping the second day of RH than dropping 100 shofar blasts.

        Some (for example, this obviously enthusiastic Wikipedia page) have made the claim that “this book was designed to be used by Conservative, non-denominational and Traditional-Egalitarian synagogues and chavurot, and by leaving out certain texts and choosing the included options, it also can be used in Orthodox or Reform congregations.” That’s clearly stretching too far.

        (By the way, I’m not sure what problem the Lev Shalem editors had with transliteration — even Art Scroll publishes transliterated machzorim (link is to the YK machzor — they also publish a transliterated RH machzor and siddurim).

        • “Minhag IS halachah”

          This is such a dubious basis for standards. Is it a minhag if we’ve been doing it for a year? Or is a longer period of time required? If nine out of ten congregations adopt a new practice, but number ten sticks with the old way, which one has minhag on their side?

          • Well, the question of what degree of obligation we have to observe a minhag is a very deep point, and has been the subject of much, much Rabbinic discussion. See this interesting discussion.

            I don’t know the history of the minhag of 100 shofar blasts — but I suspect it goes back centuries.

            Responding to BZ’s point (it would be trivial to add 30 shofar blasts):

            I was under the impression that 100 (rather than 70 shofar blasts) was fairly widely observed in Conservative congregations.

            And sure, one could always add additional material to a machzor, but usually it is easier to skip material in a machzor (rather than have to print up additional material (especially if that additional material is shaimos!) If one is going to allow arbitrary material to be added to a machzor, then any machzor is suitable for Orthodox/Traditionalist use — because one could just add the whole service. Why did the editors of Lev Shalem not make it user-friendly?

            • To be clear, MLS is very user-friendly. If you mean, why didn’t they make MLS conform to a minhag observed by the majority of Orthodox Jews (we have no data on how widely-observed 100 blasts is by Conservative shuls), then maybe they did it because it’s not Orthodox.

            • OR–a more serious answer–maybe it’s a conscious decision meant to illustrate what they perceive to be their middle-of-the-road liturgical style.

              • Well, I am a little surprised at your claim that Lev Shalem is user-friendly. Indeed, in your original post, you pointed out that they missed a huge opportunity by not including more transliterations (and that’s really an outreach issue — not a Reform/Conservative/Orthodox issue.)

                But even more so — that claim is inconsistent with other aspects of Lev Shalem. For example, the machzor offers options of either saying the names of the patriarchs or saying the names of the patriarchs and matriarchs. This suggests to me that the machzor is an attempt to reach out not only to egalitarian synagogues (which I suspect form the majority of Conservative synagogues today) but also to traditional (and Traditionalist) synagogues.

                So, here is my question — what synagogue in the world would simultaneously feel (a) so closely tied to the classical form of prayer that they would object to inclusion of the matriarchs and (b) still want to change the traditional number of shofar blasts. Maybe somewhere there is such a synagogue, but I would bet that

                * most synagogues that only mention the patriarchs want 100 blasts; and

                * a fair number of synagogues that do include the matriarchs also want 100 blasts.

                So — it just doesn’t make sense to me. The impression I get is that Lev Shalem bites off more than it can chew in terms of trying to make everyone happy (I think you also made this point above, David) and — to be frank — they may not have thought through the consequences of all their decisions (and there are, of course, other Rabbinical Assembly publications that appear to have been pushed out the door before they were really ready, e.g., Sim Shalom and Etz Hayim.)

                • I am very disappointed by their attitude toward transliteration. However, I suppose what I’m referring to more is design and layout, which is very user-friendly and very easy to follow and understand.

                  Avot and Avot v’Imahot indicates outreach to: the left such as Reform, Recon and non-denom groups; Conservative congregations that follow one of those minhagim or the other because neither is universally used in the USCJ; individual Conservative shul members who may not be comfortable with their shul’s choice to say/not to say Imahot; traditional egal indie groups that are willing to use Conservative liturgy. It in no way indicated outreach to Orthodox shuls that we can safely assume would never use a book that offers the Imahot option, much less an RA publication.

                  Perhaps you would be that most shuls that only do Avot also do 100 shofar blasts, but I’d bet that most C-shuls care way more about the former than the latter.

                  I don’t think this machzor is anything less than ready for prime time. I think they know what they’re doing with it, though I think some of the piyutim choices are odd. And I think most people won’t think twice about the number of shofar blasts.

                  Where are you even getting that? Did you sit down and count the number of blasts in MLS?

                  • I think I may have mis-expressed myself — I do agree with you that typesetting and physical layout of the machzor is excellent (I keep wanting to rub the cover!), and it is definitely a step up from previous machzorim (and even in some ways is better than Or Hadash). I also love the fact that it includes commentary on the prayers, given that it is a difficult part of Judaism to relate to.

                    But, I feel disappointed a bit by the content — and I was riffing off of your point about the “big tent”. It was suggested to me by one of the folks involved in producing the machzor that this volume was designed to be applicable across the board (meaning for Conservadox shuls), but it falls short.

                    Did you notice how many typos there were? Someone didn’t proofread the Hebrew! And, well, I know (again from an inside source) that it was (in fact) rushed out a bit at the end. I have the first printing; perhaps the second printing revises some of the typos.

                    And, yeah, I did read the whole thing cover-to-cover. And the Rosh Hashanah service seemed off to me. So I did count the shofar blasts. Perhaps I’m just more sensitive to these things than the overage congregant, but it bothered me enough to make the point here. Like you, I care a lot about prayer — I can completely understand a text that intentionally deviates from the norm for a particular reason; but it is hard for me to have sympathy for a text that deviates without any apparent reason. Perhaps it was intentional, but it looks like a mistake.

                    • Like you, I care a lot about prayer — I can completely understand a text that intentionally deviates from the norm for a particular reason; but it is hard for me to have sympathy for a text that deviates without any apparent reason.

                      We can’t determine whether MLS “intentionally [or even unintentionally] deviates from the norm” or whether it’s preserving the existing norm in the Conservative world (and making a choice, conscious or not, not to overturn this norm to switch to norms from other parts of the Hewish world), until we get some empirical data (not just speculation) on what Conservative congregations actually do, and what previous Conservative mahzorim have included. Anyone?

                      Also, I wouldn’t really classify shofar blasts in the mahzor as “text”; they’re more like stage directions.

                    • “I keep wanting to rub the cover!”

                      Me too! I kept stroking my machzor at Hadar on YK and then realizing that I looked like a lunatic.

                      I didn’t notice any typos. Where did you notice them?

                      As one of the lone Reform Jews complaining about a few oddities in Mishkan T’filah, I understand being oversensitive about a minute liturgical detail.

                      “I can completely understand a text that intentionally deviates from the norm for a particular reason; but it is hard for me to have sympathy for a text that deviates without any apparent reason.”

                      Me too! That’s one of my biggest complaints about Reform liturgy–things just feel arbitrary sometimes.

                      Is it possible that 70 is meant as a symbolic number? Is actually exactly 70? And where do all 100 go? Are there particular places set out for each and every one?

                    • David wrote:
                      “Is it possible that 70 is meant as a symbolic number? Is actually exactly 70? And where do all 100 go? Are there particular places set out for each and every one?”

                      -30 during the Shofar blowing service, after reading of the Torah
                      -0 or 30 during the silent mussaf amidah, 109 each after each of Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofarot (Ashkenaz generally does not do these, though the last Conservative Rosh Hashana service did; Sefard(ic)(?) generally does these)
                      -30 during the mussaf repetition, 10 each after each of Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofaro
                      -10 or 40 after the mussaf repetition, depending on whether the 30 during the silent mussaf were done. Regarding these, I think the standard (Ashkenaz at least) placement of the 40 blasts is 30 during kaddish shalem prior to titkabel, and 10 after the conclusion of kaddish, but probably other placements (e.g., all after kaddish) are done as well.

                    • Very interesting thread, and I learned a lot, but I’m going to be off the Internet for a few days — I wish everyone a good yomtov and I hope no raindrops hit your sukkos!

                    • Where I am, I think we can dispense with Hoshannah Rabbah –
                      Building the Sukkah brings the rain.

        • I don’t think it’s weird to discuss halachah here, nor do I want it to seem that way. Just because there’s generally a Reform bent to what I say doesn’t mean there’s no interest here at The Shuckle in consulting halachic standards.

        • What would be the reason for changing the minhag of 100 (or 101) shofar blasts?

          Disclaimer: I’ve never used the Harlow machzor (or been to a service where it was used), and never been to a Conservative synagogue on the High Holidays (though I did go to the Conservative minyan at Hillel for RH2 during college), so I’m not sure one way or the other about the facts.

          But *if* the Harlow machzor has 70 blasts, and if this is the prevailing practice in Conservative congregations, then MLS isn’t “changing” a minhag by having 70 blasts; it is just preserving the existing minhag in its community.

          And in any case, if a congregation has a different minhag, it is trivial for them to do more or fewer shofar blasts than are indicated in the mahzor.

  4. Re texts that “deviate” without apparent reason, or that seem arbitrary — is it perhaps possible that there was thought, discussion, deliberation and reason behind a decision, but that the reason is not obvious and the background was not shared? (Or even that the reason is obvious, but a given reader just doesn’t get it?)

  5. Over the holiday, I had a chance to read Hayyim Herman Kieval’s The High Holy Days: A Commentary on the Prayerbook of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The book (which is completely in English) can be ordered through Amazon from the Schechter Instute and at $14.00 (plus $3.99 for airmail shipping from Israel) — a real bargain. The book is a Conservative classic — with testimonials from Jules Harlow and Reuven Hammer on the back.

    The book consists of two parts — the first part was published in 1959 by the National Academy for Adult Jewish Studies of the United Synagogue and focuses on the Rosh Hashanah liturgy. The second part is from Kieval’s D.H.L. thesis at Jewish Theological Seminary on the Kol Nidrei service.

    The book is scholarly but accessible. In Reuven Hammer’s Entering the High Holy Days, Hammer describes Kieval’s book as one of three texts that “are indispensible for anyone wishing to investigate the subject.” Kieval also was an advisor to the Hadas’s 1964 Selichos and Harlow’s 1972 Machzor; Kieval also surved on the Siddur Committee for Siddur Sim Shalom.

    Pages 105-132 are devoted to discussing the role of the Shofar in Conservative Rosh Hashanah services — and I found it interesting that Kieval affirms the tradition of meah kolos b’shofar — 100 shofar blasts (p. 112); which he discusses in such a way that it is clear it was normative for United Synagogue member congregations in 1959. But obviously, somewhere between 1959 and Lev Shalem, something changed.

  6. …..between 1959 and Lev Shalem, something changed.

    The number of shofar blasts has to be among the least of the changes in United Synagogue member congregations since 1959. And remember that 1959 was two machzorim ago.

    Of course, I’m Reform, so what do I know (even though I grew up Conservative), but it seems to me there are more important things to think about on the Yomim Noraim than the number of shofar blasts.

    • Yeah, I’m gonna go with Larry on this. A world of things has changed in the Conservative world since 1959, not the least of which being the passing of two machzorim!

      On the other hand, while Larry is right that the number of blasts is not the most important thing to think about on RH, it’s worth thinking about.

      • On the other hand, while Larry is right that the number of blasts is not the most important thing to think about on RH, it’s worth thinking about.

        I’m still not convinced that this is a decision that needs to be made at the level of mahzor editors, rather than individual congregations planning their RH services.

        • Fair point. I think that depends on the level of knowledge among the planners of the minhag itself, though. I don’t care overly much about the number of blasts, but it would be nice to have some sort of comment somewhere in the machzor about why the number that it has is the number that it has.

  7. Larry, I hear what you are saying, but there are many mystical aspects to the shofar blasts. It is, after all, the defining mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah.

    • I’m pretty suspicious of mysticism in general, Theo. But one of the aspects of Jewish mysticism that I’m must skeptical of is the obsession with numbers. I generally assume that numbers are what they are and the meaning gets applied after the fact. There are exceptions of course, like seven is surely a cultural analog to five. It is a basic, natural number for the authors of the Tanach. Insofar as that’s the case, seven has meaning, but beyond that, I’m not too interested in numbers.

      And, given that, 70 would seem to make much more sense than 100 in this case.

  8. Well, you can look up the classical or secondary sources on meah kolos b’shofar as well as I can — when you get the Soloveitchik machzor, you’ll find that he discusses it. For now, I’ll simply say that the fact that meah kolos b’shofar is a set phrase in Hebrew shows that this has some traditional pull.

    In any case, the data from Kieval’s book was my response (as your most obedient and humble servant) to your requests:

    BZ wrote: “We can’t determine whether MLS “intentionally [or even unintentionally] deviates from the norm” or whether it’s preserving the existing norm in the Conservative world (and making a choice, conscious or not, not to overturn this norm to switch to norms from other parts of the Hewish world), until we get some empirical data (not just speculation) on what Conservative congregations actually do, and what previous Conservative mahzorim have included.”

    David wrote: “we have no data on how widely-observed 100 blasts is by Conservative shuls”

    Sure, I agree, a lot has changed since 1959. And one of the things that has changed is the number of shofar blasts. Now my question is: why did the number of shofar blasts change? Because from what I can tell at this point in time, the change looks awfully arbitrary to me, and I’m suspicious of arbitrary changes.

    • For now, I’ll simply say that the fact that meah kolos b’shofar is a set phrase in Hebrew shows that this has some traditional pull.

      Good point. But among whom is it a set phrase? I will assume it’s not universal among all streams of liturgists.

      as your most obedient and humble servant

      Ooooh. I never had one of those before.

      I’m suspicious of arbitrary changes.

      Me too. I think I’m just gonna try to email someone at the RA and ask.

      • So I just emailed mahzor[at]rabbinicalassembly[dot]org:

        At my blog–which is mostly about Jewish liturgy–I’ve been writing quote a lot about Lev Shalem. However, in the comments section, we’ve all be wondering about and discussing the number of shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah. We (the commenters and I) mostly agree that 100 shofar blasts is a norm in many communities. So we wondering what reason for having less than 100 in Lev Shalem is.

        The readers of the blog (more than you’d think for such a narrowly focused blog) and I would love an answer.

        Thanks. Moadim l’simcha.

        Now we just wait for a response.

  9. For every human action, there is the good reason and the real reason. Whatever the good reason is for reducing the number of blasts, the real reason is that Conservative congregants hear about their Reform friends getting out of services at a reasonable hour, and ask themselves why they have to sit so long and hear so many tekiahs. Then they answer the question for themselves, and next year they join the Reform temple around the corner, where they only have to sit through three rounds of nine blasts each (counting shevarim-teruah as one). In fact, maybe we have now discovered why the Reform movement has grown at the expense of the Conservative movement.

    • I’m confused. I understood from Prof. Jonathan Sarna in The Forward this year that:

      As a movement, Reform Judaism is also experiencing significant challenges. Numerically, its growth has stalled. Financially, it has been hit hard by the economic downturn, leading to painful cutbacks. It is winning fewer converts from non-Jewish spouses of Reform Jews nowadays, and sees many more unconverted non-Jews in its pews. Its youth activities, once a source of great pride to the movement, have faltered; the North American Federation of Temple Youth is in disarray. At the very meeting where he announced his retirement to the URJ’s trustees, Yoffie disclosed that Reform youths are falling away from the movement at an alarming rate: “If current trends continue, approximately 80% of the children who have a bar/bat mitzvah in our congregations will have no connection of any kind to their synagogue by the time they reach 12th grade.”

      I don’t think Reform outreach compares at all in size or scope to that of Chabad, for example.

  10. Yes, Reform growth has stalled, at a million and a half, 950 congregations; whereas Conservative growth has been negative, probably down a quarter million people and 200 congregations compared to thirty years ago. Conservative was much bigger than Reform fifty years ago, probably on a par 25 years ago. Nothing to be confused about — Sarna is not talking about Reform in comparison to other movements, and the same trends he identifies in his analysis of Reform are equally and probably even more true of the Conservative movement. He does not identify as one of the problems of Reform that it omits 73 shofar blasts.

    Reform is not an outreach organization. (When it uses the term, it’s with a capital O, and refers to being welcoming to the non-Jews in its pews.) I haven’t seen any numbers on where Chabad’s baalei teshuvah come from, but I’m reasonably confident that more Conservative defectors end up at Reform congregations than at Chabad.

    Note that I have responded to your Sarna quote as if it had any relevance to my post, which it clearly does not.

  11. Larry, please don’t be snarky. You said “the Reform movement has grown at the expense of the Conservative movement” which lead to my quoting Sarna — who doesn’t believe that the Reform movement has grown but rather remained stagnant.

    I have not seen many good demographic studies of US Jewish affiliation; the AJC publishes annual surveys, but Joel Perlmann points out (Perlmann’s paper is available from the page linked above), the AJC studies are of poor statistical quality. So, I only have anecdotal evidence — my sense is that among young people, Orthodox membership is growing (partly because of aggressive kiruv, and partly because of high Orthodox birth rates), Conservative membership is in decline, and Reform membership is constantly turning over because new recruits enter, while most young people raised in Reform Judaism deaffiliate. Do you have a different sense?

    • please don’t be snarky

      I don’t think Larry was being snarky. But I also think that snarkiness is at least implicit in a lot of what I do here at The Shuckle so that’s probably something you’ll have to get over :)

  12. I’m not aware of aggressive Orthodox kiruv, other than Chabad — but virtually every born Jew in Conservative and Reform congregations can point to Orthodox roots. By and large, young people raised in Reform and Conservative Judaism leave the synagogue when they go to college, and return when it’s time to start giving their children Jewish educations. At that point, Reform has numerous advantages, not the least of which is that there is more likely to be a Reform congregation nearby than a Conservative one — and for the mixed couples who form a significant percentage of the age cadre, the Reform congregation is more likely to provide a welcoming environment. Of course, this allows Orthodox critics of Reform to discount Reform success by denying the Jewishness of those members. But nobody in joining a congregation asks how many shofar blasts they will hear on Rosh Hashanah and makes that part of their decision to affiliate.

    • virtually every born Jew in Conservative and Reform congregations can point to Orthodox roots.

      Pre-denominational and Orthodox aren’t the same thing.

    • What does it mean for “young people raised in Reform and Conservative Judaism” to “leave the synagogue when they go to college”? If they stay involved through Hillel, does that count? If they still go to services regularly, but not at a synagogue, does that count?

      And it may be true that people don’t ask a specific question about how many shofar blasts they’ll hear on Rosh Hashanah, but services are a part of the affiliation choices people make. At CBI in Austin, the synagogue I grew up at, we have the custom at the beginning of Kabalat Shabbat of asking anyone who is new or visiting to stand up and introduce themselves to the kahal. With great regularity, there is a couple or a person who says they’re new to town and they’re shopping around. The most public and regular event a shul does is services so people go to them when they’re looking around and use services as a metric. So the number of blasts on RH may not be a factor, but many other liturgical issues may be.

      • The sad fact is that the cadre of collegians and young adults that connect to Hillel and/or alternative minyanim is not large enough to refute my generalization, although it represents an interesting new phenomenon whose outcome has yet to be discerned.

        I agree that “shopping” is an important precursor to the decision to affiliate, and liturgical style (but not content) is part of what impacts the decision to affiliate or not. Other factors are the quality of hachnasat orchim, including the cookies at the oneg, and satisfaction with the sermon. Nobody ever didn’t join a Reform temple because MT leaves out a paragraph of the Shma.

        • Hillel is a new phenomenon?

          And which nobody ever didn’t join a Reform temple because MT leaves out a paragraph of the Shma. That very fact is a significant barrier keeping me from being active in a Reform community right now. And I’d venture a guess that the occasional Conservative Jew attends a Reform service and get turned off by the liturgy.

          • Obviously the new phenomenon is alternative minyanim, not Hillel. I am confident that, over the long haul, these minyanim and their members, participants, or whatever the operative term is, will have a significant impact on the totality of non-Orthodox Jewish religious life — although I have no clue as to what that impact may be. This impact will be despite the fact that the Hillel-niks and the minyanaires represent a relatively small percentage of their demographic cohorts.

            I have no doubt that those accustomed to and comfortable with Conservative services are turned off when they first attend Reform worship — lord knows I was. Now the reverse is true — I get turned off at Conservative services not by the liturgy per se but by the over-all esthetic. And a major part of the turn-off is familiarity or the lack thereof. (As a side note, our cantor was singing RH nusach from a score that was obviously printed under non-Reform auspices, so he sang the words on the printed page, and emerged with meivi go-el instead of meivi-geulah. I was probably the only person in the sanctuary who caught it. But while I don’t expect a go-el, I have no problem with his being prayed for.)

            Your over-all dissatisfaction with the liturgical approach of the CCAR and the way it results in some of the specific choices its siddur editors made is, I agree, one of the barriers to your being comfortable in institutional Reform today. But putting back the “missing” section of the Shma is NOT going to put you back in the pew, nor certainly on the membership rolls, of a Reform congregation other than perhaps CBI. You are probably sui generis, but it is not the content of the liturgy that is keeping most of the indy minyan graduates of Reform camps out of Reform synagogues.

            Rabbi Knobel is very upfront in pointing to some of the battles he lost during the MT process — some of them he works around, others he accepts or ignores. But of course, he was part of the process, and is part of the system. And over the long haul, creators have more influence than critics.

            • And over the long haul, creators have more influence than critics.

              Agreed. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, actually. I’ve been wondering which I want to be. But it looks like I can be both. Here, I’m a critic. But for a year and a half, I was simultaneously a creator through my work with Limmud NY. So I think I’ll be both.

              However, I don’t think I’ll be a creator in the Reform Movement because I’ve given up hope that I’ll win any of the battles I’m interested in fighting.

      • At CBI in Austin, the synagogue I grew up at, we have the custom at the beginning of Kabalat Shabbat of asking anyone who is new or visiting to stand up and introduce themselves to the kahal.

        On a tangent, why does anyone ever think this is a good idea? I have encountered this in a number of communities, and I know it is done with only the best of intentions, but it can have the effect of being awkward and embarrassing and putting the people on the spot (especially when it’s not a general opt-in invitation, but when new people are singled out and asked to introduce themselves). I know it’s meant to be welcoming, but I find it has the opposite effect — if I go somewhere new, I want to blend in as well as I can, and instead I’m very publicly marked as an outsider. If you want to greet and welcome people, why not go talk to them before or after services instead?

        • I was in my twenties when I was saying kaddish for my father, and I went almost every Friday night to the same Conservative synagogue, for services and the oneg following. In that eleven months, the rabbi never failed to greet me with a gut shabbos, and ditto the rebbetzin. And nobody else ever said boo to me.

          When I first attended my current kahal, at least 3 people came over to me before services and introduced themselves — and then, during services, they introduced me rather than asking me to introduce myself. I found that an attractive minhag, and am sorry it has fallen into disuse at the kahal.

          As someone who feels inept at small talk, I find it challenging to approach and engage a stranger, but I know that it’s the most important thing I can do. Of course, I typically find that the “stranger” I’m talking to has been a member of the congregation longer than I have, or is only there for the aufruf and doesn’t care whether anyone not from the mishpacha talks to him. Well, lo alayich hadavar ligmor….

          • Larry Kaufman:
            When I first attended my current kahal, at least 3 people came over to me before services and introduced themselves — and then, during services, they introduced me rather than asking me to introduce myself.

            Did they ask you first whether you wanted to be introduced this way?

        • I can definitely see that point. I think there are different ways of welcoming that work for different people. Some probably like that kind of thing. Others prefer being greeted at the door personally. It’s not either/or. Everyone gets the chance to have both.

  13. I look forward to my favorite liturgy critic’s analysis of the Wasserman edition. The video suggests better typography than the previous edition, and the addition of some special purpose prayers and commentary. Is the new edition a response to competition from Koren, or was it in the works beforehand?

    Meanwhile, let me digress from the main thrusts of this discussion to note an expertise of Art Scroll that its competitors seem to lack: the ability to sell naming privileges. Wasserman, Stone, Saperstein, Schottenstein.

    Conservative and Reform prayerbooks typically acknowledge contributors whose generosity has helped underwrite their projects — but apparently nobody has offered enough to warrant giving them cover immortality.

    Theories?

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