A Revolutionary New High Holy Day Liturgy for Reform Judaism

Dec. 30 2015

After tracing the evolution of the Reform liturgy, Clifford E. Librach reviews Mishkan HaNefesh (“Tabernacle for the Soul”), a High Holy Day prayer book (maḥzor) recently released by the Central Council of American Rabbis:

Without question, this maḥzor is the most traditional prayer resource ever produced by the American Reform movement. . . . The maḥzor’s agenda of reclamation is clearest in the Yom Kippur sections. In an unprecedented act, the new book restores to its traditional location . . . the classical description of God as having thirteen divine attributes of mercy. This passage, from the rabbinic interpretation of Exodus 34, is contained in a Yom Kippur evening section, S’liḥot (“penitential appeals”). These attributes are recited to assuage the pain of confession with the assurance of God’s responding mercy, and the reliability of His forgiveness. . . .

The Avodah service [a detailed liturgical description of the holy day’s Temple rites], long a source of Reform consternation because it clearly and deliberately attached Yom Kippur to the Temple, has been reinstated. Avodah had been part of the liturgy [published in the 1970s], but it was almost always entirely skipped or replaced in toto by American Reform congregations. . . .

In another break with the Reform past, . . . [the maḥzor] incorporates the official prayer for the welfare of the state of Israel, as published under the auspices of its (Orthodox) chief rabbinate, complete with its reference to the state as reishit ts’miḥat g’ulateinu (the “first flowering of our redemption”). The Yom Kippur commemoration here ends with the exclamation L’shanah ha-ba’ah biyrushalayim! (“Next year in Jerusalem!”). This unvarnished appeal for the coming of the messiah had been [a] longtime Reform bugaboo.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Commentary

More about: American Judaism, Jewish liturgy, Messianism, Reform Judaism, Religion & Holidays, Yom Kippur, Zionism

 

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations