"In any worship setting, people have diverse beliefs. The challenge of a single liturgy is to be not only multi-vocal, but poly-vocalto invite full participation at once, without conflicting with the keva text. (First, the keva text must be one that is acceptable; hence, the ongoing adaptations of certain prayers, over time, such as the Gvurot.) Jewish prayer invites interpretation; the left hand material was selected both for metaphor and theological diversity. The choices were informed by the themes of Reform Judaism and Life: Social justice, feminism, Zionism, distinctiveness, human challenges." Click here to read the full text of "Introduction to Mishkan T'filah." Also visit "Whither Reform Worship?Parashat Terumah."
In short: Carefully! Thoughtfully! Patiently! Many Reform worshipers have not previously seen Mishkan Tfilah and, whats more, its layout is different than previous siddurim. Click on any of the articles on our page "Introducing MT into Your Congregation" for ideas and assistance.
Why are some prayers/blessings on a two-page spread while others are not?
One version of Mishkan Tfilah has some pages in linear form and other pages in the two-page spread format. There is also a version of Mishkan Tfilah which is entirely in the linear format. In the former version, the linear sections are those in which the material is simply not intended to have alternatives. For example, Psukei Dzimra is meant to be sung, so no reading alternatives are included. The Torah service also does not lend itself to alternative renderings. Other sections such as the Festival or Holiday inserts simply do not require alternatives. Material in the book that is linear in style is designated with a special blue frame, a simple blue line around the page. This applies both to the linear service and to those pages in the mixed version of Mishkan Tfilah (such as Psukei Dzimra) that are linear in style.
What strategies can you suggest for use of MT by bar/bat mitzvah students?
Hopefully, in a few months time, Reform synagogues will begin using Mishkan Tfilah at their Shabbat services which include bnei mitzvah. In addition to the general issues surrounding using the new siddur, there are concerns special to using the siddur with bnei mitzvah conducting the service and with bnei mitzvah guests attending the service. The concerns are not hard to imagine, but are worth spelling out: 1) How can a synagogue best prepare the bar/bat mitzvah to use the siddur as easily as possible? 2) How can the congregationincluding perhaps more guests than regularsuse the siddur in a way that will promote participatory worship? Click here to read the full text of "Suggested Guidelines for Adapting Mishkan T'filah for Shabbat B'nei Mitzvah Services."
Is there new music to fit some of the new wordings and phrasings in MT?
The publication of Mishkan Tfilah presents a wonderful opportunity to examine new and meaningful ways to approach worship. Integrating the spoken word with uplifting musical settings of our liturgy can generate a dramatic worship experience. Music can be a gateway to the spirit; for many congregants searching for meaningful worship, carefully planned and balanced musical choices can provide a pathway that guides their spiritual journey. The following suggestions are offered as a guide for planning the music of worship. No one size fits all. Mishkan Tfilah will be one prayer book that has variegated applications in each Synagogue community each in its unique way, according to its minhagim (customs)." To read more, click on "Music in Mishkan T'filah."
Explain to the worshipers that hearing the chatimah, the closing blessing of most prayers, is their cue to turn to the next page. There is no need to announce page numbers unless you are skipping pages. Then, when you begin the next prayer, begin slowly. It takes less than a half-second to find your placebut if the leader introduces the words too quickly, the mind cant register them properly. Be patient!
How will congregants know when to read without the use of italics and Roman font?
The worship leader(s) need to decide in advance what will be read together and then cue the worshipers accordingly. Cueing can be as simple as saying, Together, or Responsively. Minimal directions are best.