Reform Teens Create Tradition URJ Press Publishes Movements First Bencher
HOUSTON, Nov. 18The 4,200 attendees at this weeks Union for Reform Judaism Biennial Convention received a special gift: a free copy of Birkon Mikdash Mat: NFTYs Bencher, the first bencher ever compiled by the Reform Movement.
A bencher is a traditional collection of prayers to be chanted after a meal as well as songs for the Sabbath table and the traditional seven wedding blessings.
The new pocket-sized volume was compiled by Jeremy Gimbel when he served as the Religious and Cultural Vice President of NFTYthe Reform Movements youth affiliate. Released to rave reviews at the 2005 NFTY Convention in New Los Angeles in February, the publication of the book marks a milestone in the Reform Movements religious outlook and observance.
The prophet Joel wrote that The old shall dream dreams and the youth shall see visions, said Rabbi Daniel Freelander, vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. In truth, adolescents often lead the way in our Movement, bringing new visions and reality to the Movement as a whole.
Traditional Jews use a bencher primarily at meals, particularly on the Sabbath, for prayers and communal singing. While Reform Jews generally have not followed this tradition, the singing of songs and prayers has become a regular happening at meals in Reform camps and youth groups hence the need for a bencher.
The Bencher is a true testament to the Reform Movements culture, in which our youth lead us into new areas that then infuse our daily lives and celebrations, said Hope Chernak, managing director of NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth.
The book was distributed at Shabbat dinner to the 4,200 Reform Jews attending the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention meeting here. It is anticipated that the volume will be used by congregations at their celebrations as well as in individual homes.
URJ Press is the book-publishing arm of the Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations), the synagogue arm of the Reform Movement in North America. Uniting more than 1.5 million Reform Jews in 900 congregations across the United States and Canada, Union programs and services include music and book publishing, adult education opportunities, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.
Birkon Mikdash Mat: NFTYs Bencher Edited by Jeremy Gimbel Publication Date: November 18, 2005 Price: $5.00 ISBN: 0-80740-965-0