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October 9, 2015 | 26th Tishrei 5776
Mishkan T'filah
Including discussions on
  • Pilot Reviews
  • Implementing Its Use
  • Liturgy

  1. Anyone considering changing siddurim at this point - I would strongly encourage you to wait a while. The new Reform siddur may be out in as little as two years, and my three experiences with it at the Biennial were very exciting. With its traditional as well as creative prayers, it will satisfy both those congregations that want to do the same thing every week, as well as those that like constant change in text. While it is still expected to undergo some revision from the draft presented in Boston, it appears that it will re-introduce some elements not currently included in any version of Gates of Prayer. You may want to wait and have a look at the finished product, before making a financial commitment for the long term.
    1200 Families

  2. We asked our Mishkan T'filah review committee to complete their survey forms without any prior discussion with others, then had a meeting of the committee to which we also invited anyone else who had been present for as many as three or four services where Mishkan T'filah was used. Both committee and non-committee showed up (though still only a handful). We had a very informal discussion, and mostly people simply aired the things they felt really strongly about--and rabbi also shared some of the discussions which had gone on at their rabbinic conferences to provide a context. The end result was that even those who had strong negative feelings ended up on board for continuing to use it for at least the time being. Lesson learned: People just want to be heard, so meeting and discussing openly is a good thing.

  3. [Re a query about Mishkan T'filah:] The comment "Our congregants are very divided about the feelings they come away with" made me chuckle, both because of the response of my own congregation to this or any other kind of change, and because of my professional experience working with organizations around change management. The surprise would be if they were not divided!

    My experience is that, no matter how small or how positive the change, there will be those who are opposed to it just because it's a change. The reality is that most people need time to adjust to the idea of anything new. In my congregation, many of the initial negative reactions have disappeared, as people have become more accustomed to the new siddur (we have continued to use it after the pilot period, so have now been using it for almost eight months)--but of course there are still pockets of resistance. In addition, we all know it's not possible to please all of the people all of the time, so no doubt there will continue to be naysayers. My sense is that the majority view in my congregation, at least, is now pretty positive.

    (340 families)

  4. [Re: Beth's posting]: Here is what Rabbi David Goldberg of The Liberal Jewish Synagogue said as it pertains to this week's Torah portion. It seems to resonate with [Beth's] comments. Clearly it goes beyond what you were saying, but it does point that some 3000 years later human nature remains the same!

    "We should not be surprised that the Israelites behave as they do. The majority always prefer to leave things as they are, to complain among themselves but do nothing to change the situation. That has always been the way with us Jews, indeed with all peoples. Prudence, circumspection, minding one's own business unless one is directly, personally affected, that usually wins out over taking a stand or making a fuss about principles....

    How often do the Jewish, Christian and Muslim opponents of any reform or modernisation within their religions echo the same arguments: that human reason is fallible, but the Bible, the Gospels or the Koran are divine, therefore eternally true; that if God wanted women rabbis, priests or imams, it would have been mentioned in the sacred text; that laws which chain a deserted wife to her missing husband, or forbid birth control, or condemn the homosexual, might appear unjust to our partial understanding but ours not to question, simply to obey, the Will of God. Thus do all religious conservatives defend the status quo.

    But at the end of the day, as Tennyson wrote, there can be more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds. A person who by temperament prefers to be told, who responds to authority rather than trusting to intellectual enquiry, who finds comfort in the familiar and the tried precisely because it is familiar and tried and never mind its meaning--such a person will be disturbed by the large degree of self-regulation and moral responsibility which Liberal Judaism encourages in its followers."

    Jim 230+

  5. In many ways it is a great improvement over what we had been using. The use of: graphics (text to curve) which could not have been done when Gates was published; updated English (now I have to look at the book for the English until it becomes part of memory); general layout.

    My congregation was one of the pilots and we welcomed the changes that we saw at Biennial. Can it still be improved? Of course it can.


  6. I have enjoyed using the draft editions of Mishkan T'filah. (We have been using it for the past year at my campus chavurah and I used the new draft at Biennial.) I think that it allows for a great variety of service options while remaining true to the rubric/structure/keva of the Traditional service.

    A few comments (positive) and concerns (page numbers cited are from the Biennial Shabbat edition of MT):

    • I think the selection of songs before Kabbalat Shabbat is nice, maybe it could be expanded and include source citations.
    • I think that Vayechule should be included in the Kiddush (8).
    • Having certain verses of Kabbalat Shabbat (10-28) that correspond to popular melodies limits congregation's ability to explore new melodies/methods of Kabbalat Shabbat. Also, it makes it seem that only the parts of the traditional psalms that we currently have melodies for are important. In addition, if certain parts are going to bolded, why not also bold the verses of L'cha Dodi that are traditionally sung in our congregations?
    • I am interested in how the decision was made to include only the beginning and the end of V'ahavta in the Erev Shababt service (44), but to include the entire last paragraph in the morning service (156-158). Anybody have any insights in to how the V'ahavta will appear in the weekday and festival services?
    • I like the two versions of the G'vurot on facing pages (58-59), maybe there should be some way of drawing a distinction between the two versions on the top of the page.
    • I think something should be done with the Amidah (56-70 and also in the morning service) to denote each of the traditional seven blessings. As it is now, most traditional blessings appear on the right hand side however, some (Eloheinu, v'elohei doroteinu on 63) on the left hand side (this seems to go against the general layout of MT).
    • In the Torah service, "El Harachamim" (74) used to be "Av harachamim". I think that this change makes the prayer very impersonal. Some definitions:

      --av = father; --El = generic name of God (used by other near eastern cultures); --Harachamim = compassionate (comes from the same root as the word for womb);

      Av Harachamim can thus be rendered as Compassionate (or even motherly) father, where has El harachamim loses this dichotomy. I think the editors of MT need to be careful when trying to remove all references to gender because they risk losing such powerful imagery. (Thanks to [ rabbi...] for pointing this out to me.)

    • There seems to be some ambiguity as to whether or not the Shabbat services double for Festival services as well. They include the option for Festival candlelighting (6) and Vayidaber (52) before the Amidah. However, it does not include the Festival Amidah or the Festival Kiddush.
    • And finally, what will be included in the final edition of MT (Shachait, Mincha, and Ma'ariv, for weekdays, Shabbat, and Festivals? Options for other special days: Purim, Hanukkah, Tisha B'av, Yom Ha'atzmaut/HaShoah; American holidays: Thanksgiving, etc.)?

    • I agree with Aron that Vay'chulu should be included before Kiddush (p. 8). But, why is Kiddush placed immediately after candlelighting? And, why is Shabbat morning Kiddush missing?
    • I also agree with Aron about the differences in the evening and morning V'ahavtas.
    • I fail to understand the need for the alef-bet on p. 119. But, at least the new draft has omitted the examples of the use of the letters,which was not always applied consistently (e.g., several of the examples were of the use of letters as prefixes rather than as initial letters of words).
    • Shabbat Shuvah additions are included in several places in the new siddur, but not in the various Kaddishim (i.e., extra l'eila) and in the Torah service (i.e., venorah in the echad eloheynu).
    • After the Al Hanisim insertion for Chanukah, one should be directed back to the previous page to complete the Modim.
    • The use of color or a gray shaded box behind the text would make the various seasonal insertions stand out better.
    • Gates of Prayer has the option of the full series of blessings after the haftarah, but only the abbreviated version here. I think the full version should at least be an option.
    • Magen Avot is omitted at the end of the evening Amidah, when it is an option in Gates of Prayer evening service I. I think it should be an option.
    • Baruch shenatan is missing in the Torah service, and I think it should be included.
    • On page 197, it would be helpful to have the names of the Hebrew months and the days of the week in Hebrew to prevent stumbles.

    All in all, I like Mishkan T'filah, especially the beautiful language employed therein and the great page designs. I can't wait for the full edition to come out.


  8. I would prefer that the Hebrew were interlinear with the English translation rather than the Hebrew transliteration, line for line, with the transliteration below. I think this would encourage and build Hebrew literacy and comprehension.

    We have many visitors to our services. This makes it especially hard to use Mishkan T'filah, which requires regular use before a feeling of comfort settles in. In addition, our accompanist is in a loft and so there must be extensive meetings beforehand to decide on the text that will cue the music.

    There are, however, many positive aspects to the new prayer book and I applaud the tremendous amount of thought that has gone into it. In particular, as a service leader, I am grateful for the emphasis on chatimot. After our initial six week trial of Mishkan T'filah earlier this year, I have continued to chant the chatimot, whether using MT, GOP or GPA. This allows for more of a flow between prayers.


  9. I was impressed by the careful comparisons members of this list made between MT and GOR. My own observations, after using MK at a regional biennial, the continental biennial--by which I don't mean to exclude our Puerto Rico, St. Thomas or Hawaiian contingents, only to include our Canadian friends--and at a congregation that piloted on Shabbat--are based largely on my reactions to the format of MT, not its content.
    1. I think I prefer the option of multiple readings in a straight-through format to the option of multiple services, although I concede that many will find it harder to follow.
    2. I know that our watchword is autonomy, but I like the stage directions furnished by the italics passages in GOR and GOP, and I like a distinction between solo readings from the bimah, responsive readings, and unison readings.
    3. I do not find the menus in the upper corners very useful.
    4. I like having the footnotes with source information and other commentary and explanatory text.
    5. On the other hand, I am appalled by one word choice in the explanatory text--saying it is "customary" to practice certain body language. It was not the custom in the Conservative congregations in which I grew up, nor has it been the custom in any of the many Reform congregations I have frequented as an adult. It is a borrowing from a more traditional milieu, introduced by younger clergy and aped to limited extent by monkey-see monkey-do congregants. Note that I have no objection to others bowing or bending the knee or rising on one's tiptoes for Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh--I just don't want to be told that it's customary.
    6. I haven't sorted out how I feel about the inclusion of readings from secular sources.
    7. I think the inclusion of transliterations is a good idea--but I am sensitive to the objection raised by Rabbi Gamoran a while back in RJ Magazine that providing transliterations may tend to militate against the importance of learning Hebrew.

    In the interest of encouraging this list to discuss ideas rather than just practices, I welcome debate, or at least discussion, on three of the above points in particular as they apply to the worship experience--body language, secular readings, transliterations.


  10. I also object to the use of the word "customary" in describing the "choreography." Our congregation was one of the "pilot" ones. In my evaluation, I remarked that although the explanations were interesting about the sources and reasons for the various rituals, and some of the re-inserted prayers, I was offended, as a life-long Reform Jew, that there was no inclusion of the reasons that the rituals and prayers had been omitted and modified by Reform in the past. I almost felt as if we were being forced to re-adopt traditional ways on a "take it or leave it, all or nothing" basis.
  11. I find skipping around in a prayer book a bit distracting. I prefer multiple services to the multiple readings, if indeed there is a need for multiple services. While the idea of multiple this and that has an initial feeling of variety, after using the GOP for only eight years, I am ready for something new in the readings though I do have my favorite ones which I would hate to lose. I can live with either approach.

    I remember the discussion at one of the regional biennials regarding stage directions etc. The idea is that the congregation will eventually pick up on when they should rise and read and... I agree with you here. I think having them leads to less awkward moments as some people rise, some people wait to be told to rise, and in the end some people never get it anyway.

    Regarding customary body language, I guess this is not the time to discuss that issue in particular (it was customary in the Conservative congregation that I was raised in), but I agree with you that saying that in the new prayer book is not appropriate. Truly what needs to be done if the Movement thinks this needs to be done, is to have rabbis, or whoever, educate their congregations regarding this, and then let the congregants decide for themselves. This avoids the monkey-see monkey-do issue you raise which I prefer to term practicing rituals without understanding their reason for being.

    Secular readings are fine, but we must be sensitive to not being too New Age sounding as many older congregants and yes, younger ones too, cringe at this.

    I, too, am concerned about transliterations, but looking out on the congregation from the bimah and seeing long time congregants who cannot read Hebrew now and will not read Hebrew in the future leads me to conclude it is not a bad idea. As long as we stress Hebrew with our children, the future will be taken care of.

    Jim 230+

  12. Recently our congregation has been using a three ring binder for our services, which contains for each prayer, the Hebrew, the transliteration and an accurate English translation. I understand the argument about not encouraging people to learn Hebrew, but as someone who reads Hebrew fairly easily, I will still sometimes switch to the transliteration because the Hebrew reading is more difficult and I might be tired or just not in the mood. Almost everything we read in Hebrew is actually sung. Having all three available allows for greater participation on all levels and takes into account the needs of many different people. By the way our board decided to go ahead and purchase the "unfinished" version of MT if it is made available. So we are definitely going to be switching over.
    170 units
  13. One of things that concerns me is the lack of credit for the original writings in Mishkan T'filah. Our tradition teaches that one should always credit original sources in one's teaching. I am concerned that we are not at all modeling that in our liturgy. Each of the creative interpretations has a source somewhere; shouldn't they receive credit for their work?
  14. I think that stage instructions should be provided unobtrusively (small type or marginally) in a non-coercive way (e.g. "may be recited standing","usually recited seated") as there are two purposes here: One, to avoid obstructing the customs of a synagogue which vary from the printed norm. The second, equally important is to provide guidance to that vast majority of groups of Jews using the siddur who are not players in the debate, but simply want some guidance for praying.

    Finally, there should be extensive commentary on editorial decisions, traditions, choreography, and everything else (similar to Gates of Understanding). This is a must-read for worship leaders and useful as a reference for interested congregants.

    Obviouly all of the above cannot be crammed into a single edition of a prayer book. Assuming that one book cannot be all things to all people, perhaps there should be several page-matched editions:

    • one with transliteration
    • one with comentary
    • one with literal translaction
    • one for youth/school use, etc.

    The Artscroll Siddur series does something like this with considerable success for the traditional services. I sat in on an early workshop on the new Reform siddur where I thought the multi-edition concept was under strong consideration. Not sure whether that is still alive?

    250 families

  15. I am currently the chairman of the Prayer Book Subcommittee at my synagogue. I am interested in what other such committees are doing now that we are within a year or so of the release of the new Reform siddur, Mishkan T'filah.

    1. Has your synagogue already decided to purchase Mishkan T'filah? If so, why?
    2. Has your synagogue considered Mishkan T'filah and decided not to purchase it? If so, why? What siddur will you be retaining?
    3. If your synagogue is purchasing Mishkan T'filah, what is the current siddur that you are replacing?
    4. If your synagogue is considering replacing your current siddur, which siddurim other than Mishkan T'filah are you considering?
    5. Does your synagogue currently use its own siddur?


  16. At this time, my congregation will not be replacing Gates of Prayer (the original, blue) with Mishkan T'filah, primarily because of the cost factor. Our budget simply will not allow for that expense at this time.

    Over the years, however, we have put together some siddurim for use within our congregation. These have mainly been holiday-specific, but also include two we use for our once-a-month Family Services, our Consecration Service. Additionally, we put together Kabbalat Shabbat service siddurim for our 5th, 10th, and 13th "birthdays." Each of these was designed to be used on "regular" Shabbatot as well, and offer an additional service option throughout the year.

    50 families 

  17. Yes, provisionally [we have decided to purchase Mishkan T'filah]. We piloted the draft of Mishkan T'filah and, while it was not perfect, people were pleased, interested, and invigorated. We are a Gates of Prayer congregation at present.
    240 units

  18. At [our congregation], we currently use Gates of Prayer and "Gates of Grey." When we chose to use GOP more than twenty-five years ago, I was ritual chair and brought the recommendation of that committee to the full Board of Trustees. The only question I was asked was, "Are you buying the Hebrew or the English opening?" When I answered that we were purchasing one-hundred of each, there were no more questions and GOP was adopted.

    We have experimented with Mishkan T'filah and sent off a report of our experiences, but have not formally considered the question of its adoption. I suspect that when we see the final version, we will have an appropriate discussion and then take our recommendation to the board. It is possible that we would appoint a special sub-committee to closely examine the new book, but as of now we have not really spent time in discussing its possible adoption.


  19. We are just in the process of making a change. Our process involved conducting a facilitated workshop with congregants who worship Friday night, and Saturday morning, the Board, and the Ritual Committee. The workshop focused on worship, the worship experience, and what role the prayer book has in that experience. A small group of six then reviewed the results, developed criteria for the ideal prayer book based on the congregants' responses, and then applied these criteria to eight prayer books, including our own Gates of Prayer, and the new Mishkan. We will then advise/suggest the top three for review by the rabbi--who will then make the final decision.
    450 family units

  20. Mar 2005 Digest 045

                In Mishkan T'filah--Sanctuary of Prayer--the new Reform siddur, most of the Hebrew texts have been preserved. But some have been altered, often reverting back to the traditional text. The most striking example of this is in the G'vurot which speaks of God's acts in this world. The traditional text praises God "who gives life to the dead" (m'chayei ha-meitim) while the Reform version has read "who gives life to all" (m'chayei ha-kol) for more than a century. Although bodily resurrection is, indeed, a Jewish concept, the Reform interpretation goes beyond that, acknowledging a Creator God who is the Source of all life.

  21. Nov 2006 Digest 159

                …in the translation of eileh devarim--these are the obligations without measure. GOP rendered leviat met (which means accompanying--that is, burying--the dead) as consoling the bereaved. MT translates it more or less accurately.

                As it happens, if we can relativize mitzvot, I think consoling the bereaved carries more weight than attending the funeral--so I have no problem with the values conveyed in GOP. What has bugged me for these thirty years is the failure of the English to match the Hebrew, or perhaps, the failure of the Hebrew to match the English. We all know that GOP has many identified instances of English passages that are explained as matching the spirit of the Hebrew but that are not translations. But this particular example I've cited has purported to be a translation, not an adaptation.

                The cynic in me has interpreted this as the liturgists prettifying the concept for worshippers who won't know the difference. Rabbi Knobel (who has chaired the editorial committee for MT) assures me that my cynicism re GOP is unfounded--even as he supports the idea that the translations should translate.

                …I think we'll continue hearing the grumbling that always comes with change, even as we learn to take MT for granted, and enjoy its richness…

  22. Nov 2006 Digest 159
    The practice of paraphrasing (or "euphemizing") in the target language, be it German or English, is a venerable Reform liturgical practice that goes back to some of the earliest German Reform prayer books. Abraham Geiger's "centrist" prayer book from 1854, for example, kept much of the traditional Hebrew (like m'hayyei hameitim) but euphemized in the German. This was a way of keeping the community together.  In the UPB, the familiar "Grant us peace" is not at all a translation of "Sim shalom," although the two prayers appear right next to each other. In some instances, the Hebrew of certain prayers was dropped entirely, and the English was a paraphrase (consider the treatment of Aleynu, the "Adoration" in UPB). What is new in the Reform Movement in recent years is not liturgical paraphrasing on the part of prayer book authors; it is rather the demand on the part of congregants for a reasonably literal translation! That is because, more and more, the Hebrew text is being used liturgically, and congregants rightly want to know what it means! By the way, even MT does not always give faithful translations (despite the advertising); there are numerous instances of euphemistic paraphrases--though fewer in the final book than in some of the earlier drafts.
  23. Nov 2006 Digest 160
    …As a teacher of beginning Hebrew for adults, I am always amazed at my students' comments in comparing the book translation of a prayer to the actual "interlinear" translation. We have a lot of fun with Ma'ariv Aruvim. I suggest that unless we look at word-for-word translation, we consider our prayers like poetry--where the beauty of the words is in the mouth of the beholder.
    350 Families
  24. Nov 2006 Digest 173

    Last Saturday evening, our congregation held an event, “Guide to the Perplexed Attendee of Shabbat Services.” Its purpose was to answer questions about Mishkan T'filah and to provide an historical perspective of Reform liturgy. Two of the six attendees were teenagers: My son, 15, and the daughter of our synagogue president, 14.

    The discussion about changing liturgical language to reflect gender equality sparked a heated debate. Both teenagers objected because they felt that recasting the prayers in inclusive and politically correct language misrepresented the original sources. Both describe themselves as feminists but expressed that reading original materials and understanding them in light of modern views was a more scholarly and authentic approach than rewriting or re-translating the Hebrew to eliminate sexist language.

    They asked, “Do we simply rewrite everything we don’t like? Where’s the integrity in that? Isn’t it more honest and instructive to retain the traditional language but discuss the differences between older values and contemporary values? Don’t we learn more about our history if we are aware of the biases and contexts of the original texts?” They also extended this criticism to liturgical changes in Mishkan T'filah to de-emphasize angelology, emphasize spiritual vs. physical resurrection, and de-emphasize particularism. As you might imagine, other participants raised counter arguments, and our group had to agree to disagree and move on.

    So, are we alienating young people because they view Reform liturgy as watered-down, dishonest and inauthentic?

    I do not agree that it is any of these, but I think these teenagers raised significant philosophical issues. Is their wish for "authenticity" part of the phenomenon described in an earlier post…that described youth as desirous of answers?

    Is it the job of the Reform Movement to serve up what congregants want? Which people should we please and which alienate?

    75 members
  25. Nov 2006 Digest 173

    …Consider, for example, the t'filah. While I realize that my view may be offensive to some, to me it seems that the wording [in Mishkan T’filah] was changed to reflect a surrender to political correctness without thought for the meaning of the prayer in the first place.  In particular, I refer to the prayer known as the "Avot v'Imahot." I think it reflects very poorly upon us to have made these changes if we expect *anyone* to take us seriously.

    My reading of the texts in question tells me that the four men mentioned, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had *personal* relationships with God. Additionally, they each had personal covenants with God, something that had not happened before or since in such a manner. Indeed, the very repetition "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob" reinforces this individual pact. It is only as we move from B'reishit to Shemot that we transition from a tribal, family-oriented religious practice to that of peoplehood: at least part of the first covenant fulfilled.

    Adding the women, while laudable in intent, completely destroys this meaning in the prayer, sacrificed at the altar of sex-based (over)sensitivity. Instead, I would have recommended adding a new prayer which focuses on the unique and important contributions of our Mothers--those contributions which are *different* from those of the men, and deserving of distinct and separate mention. Trying to lump them together with their husbands cheapens them, the men, and the prayer itself. I think we can do better; I think we should have done better.

    Doing what we did opens us up to much criticism, even from our own…

    …If we can make up or change our prayers based upon our current desires, then what does "being Jewish and acting in a Jewish manner" mean? Is it just a set of vaguely-defined behaviours? Is what we have, what we have been handed, so weak that it must flip with the passing breeze? Is this what our ancestors died to protect?

  26. Nov 2006 Digest 174

    Isn't it important to "Pray what you mean and mean what you pray?" If our perception of God has changed then liturgy needs to reflect that. I may not agree with everything in Mishkan T’filah, but it is taking us in a new direction that we need to follow. I have prayed with a traditional siddur hundreds of times, and while I find it comforting, I certainly don't agree with everything in it.

    No prayer book is going to be perfect and meets the needs of everybody perfectly. We need to keep asking the questions and keep on seeking.

  27. May 2007 Digest 080

                [Re] differentiating "agenda" from "vision." The former suggests a list of tasks that need to be accomplished. The latter implies an overarching sense of direction. An agenda supports a vision.

                The vision of MT was to offer a new reform siddur that would allow the greatest number of worshippers present to connect with the Divine. (More on that below).

                The agenda included:

    1. Education (eg/ what do the words mean; what's the origin of the prayers; what is the choreography)

    2. Theological diversity (recognizing the vast range of ways we perceive God within the context of a single liturgy)

    3. Inspiring spiritual transformation (eg/ soul-searching, spiritual elevation, motivating social action)

    4. Accessibility (transliteration, aesthetic factors, margin headings, historical, spiritual and practical “how-to” commentaries; song resources)

                There are other agenda items, certainly, but the above might clarify the difference between the vision of MT and those preceding.

                Liturgy serves worship, not the other way around. Siddurim evolve to meet the needs of their communities--the people, the events, the history, the hopes and dreams. Siddurim evolve to help worship become more effective, according to the vision of that era.

                The vision of MT was impacted greatly by the observation that our worshipping communities are not homogenous. At any give service, we have regulars and strangers, Hebrew-literate and not, multiple generations--which not only reflect different stages of faith-development, but also varied frames of reference. We have mourners and celebrants, believers and community-supporters…

                Of course, as Dr. Lawrence Hoffman would remind us, any siddur is only a tool in worship. How we worship--how we use our siddur--rends it more or less effective.

                Ultimately, we ask: why do we worship? What do we seek? How are we transformed? There are intellectual, spiritual and social components; indeed, even political perceptions frame our choices. The siddur should be attentive to all of these. MT attempts to be sensitive to these, while underscoring what I would offer as our primary vision: to allow the greatest number of worshippers present to connect with the Divine.

                To connect with the Divine means: Within community, acknowledging diversity, so that no person is invisible; thus all are welcomed to join in the sacred work of tikun atzmi (self-repair) and tikun olam. Connecting with the Divine inspires us to live on a higher plane.

    Rabbi Elyse Frishman

    Editor, Mishkan T’filah
  28. July 2007 Digest 133

                Mishkan T'filah is going to be hardcover. The book contains 694 + xviii pages (that is actually less than GOP). The book contains one service each for weekday morning, afternoon, and evening services; two services each (one in the two-page spread format, one in the linear format) for Erev Shabbat and Shabbat morning, and one service for Shabbat afternoon; one service each for festival evening, morning; and afternoon; blessings for home and synagogue; and songs. Each of the Shabbat services is continuous from the beginning through the Torah service (unlike GOP), but Aleynu and Kaddish are in a section toward the end of the book (as in GOP). There is only one printing of the weekday and festival Amidot, so one has to turn pages in the evening service to get there (in both cases, it is placed after the afternoon service preliminaries). Bottom line: there is more continuity in each service in MT than in GOP, but not absolute continuity. There will still be some need to announce pages (though not as much)--also because some congregations will still do some skipping in the preliminary morning materials and in Kabbalat Shabbat.

    Rabbi Rick Sarason
    Editorial Committee
  29. Oct 2007 Digest 191

                We don't have an implementation plan as such--that would be up to the clergy. But, since the last Biennial, we have been planning for its arrival. The groundwork has been laid by a combined clergy-lay Task Force. Our Task Force, which represented a cross section of the ages, interests, and needs of our diverse congregation, met several times exploring prayer, Reform Judaism and the Mishkan T'filah. In addition, we have prayed with it at several services on Saturday mornings at our alternative service and incorporated it into services with Rick Calvert, Dan Nichols and Rabbi Dan Freelander. We piloted the first version at the alternative services and provided feedback to the authors, and our rabbis have spoken about it repeatedly. In addition, rabbis have shared readings from the book on several occasions (holding up the prototype), we have met with the executive committee (which recommended using it consistently once it had been introduced, and did a multimedia educational program on prayer and the MT at our last board meeting. I had not realized how much excitement this ground work led to until the prayer books arrived and, as we were counting them, numerous people, who had not been directly involved in the Task Force or the Worship Committee, stopped to ask for a look and expressed their anticipation. In short, we have laid much groundwork, planted seeds of anticipation, and the clergy is formulating an implementation plan with the guidance of the MT task force and the Worship Committee.

                It was good to open the "real deal" and find the structure and content that many of us have been growing accustomed to for the past several years.


    1800 family units
  30. Oct 2007 Digest 209

                Overall I think that the new prayer book is a welcome breath of fresh air to our worship services. One of the things that I like are the P'sukei D'Zimrah (Verses of Song). In the GOP we did have the warm up Psalms but by and large we tended to ignore them or do one and move on. The Mishkan  T'filah is much better at facilitating the use of the Psalms and gives the  congregation the opportunity to move to that place of kavanaugh that is so  important in our conversations with God.


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