The following seven lessons by Rabbi Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery to help the student prepare for their reading of Megillat Esther. The nusaḥ taught is Israeli style Ashkenaz-Lithuanian.
The complete reading of Megillat Esther Related liturgy and liturgy-related work:Ta’amei Hamiqra (cantillation) for Megillat EstherThe Ritual of the Seder and the Agada of the English Jews Before . . . → Read More: Learn the Kriyat Megillat Esther
The following prayer for the government was composed by Congregation Beth Shalome in Richmond, Virginia in 1789. Please note the acrostic portion of the prayer in which the initial letters of the succeeding lines form the name: Washington. . . . → Read More: Prayer for the government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by Kahal Kadosh-Beit Shalome (1789)
Exalted are you Lincoln. Who is like you! You were highly respected among Kings and Princes. All that you accomplished you did with a humble spirit. You are singular and cannot be compared to anyone else. Who among the great are like Lincoln? Who can be praised like you? . . . → Read More: Memorial Prayer for Abraham Lincoln by Isaac Goldstein the Levite (1865)
The Tu Bishvat seder is a metaphor. But usually we use metaphor in our daily lives to accomplish, persuade, inspire or explain. There is something we’re bending metaphor to accomplish. This meditation is an exercise in free-thinking. Here, just play with metaphor for the sake of expressing and exploring your emotional state, history, anticipations and apprehensions. Each of the quotations from the Torah or rabbinical writings below represents an emotion. After we say the blessing over the olives, read the quotations, pick one (or more) that resonate, and play with the metaphor to reach a deeper understanding of yourself and others. . . . → Read More: A Tu Bishvat Seder Meditation on the World of Yetzira by Ben Murane
From [the Holy One’s] form/to’ar the constellations are shimmering, and God’s form projects the exalted ones. And Her crown blazes [with] the mighty, and His garment flows with the precious. And all the trees will rejoice in the word, and the plants will exult in His rejoicing, and His words shall drop as perfumes, flowing forth flames of fire, giving joy to those who search them, and quiet to those who fulfill them. . . . → Read More: On Sweet Fruit and Deep Mysteries: Kabbalistic and Midrashic Texts to Sweeten your Tu Bishvat Seder
An original liturgical poem inspired by the Modah|Modeh Ani prayer. . . . → Read More: A Kavanah for Waking Up by Andrew Shaw
Thankful am I in your Presence, Spirit who lives and endures, for You’ve returned to me my soul with compassion. Abundant is your faith! . . . → Read More: מודה אני | Modah/Modeh Ani (translation by Andrew Shaw)
Nomi Lerman and I were co-teacher’s this past season at Kolot Ḥayeinu’s religious school in Park Slope Brooklyn this past season, and as a Ḥanukah present we made a Ḥanukah Madrikh for our Kittah Gimmel class. I’m certain there are Jewish educators all over the world preparing curricular resources for Ḥanukah right about now and hope that by sharing this they can take it and improve on it, or else we’ll save them some energy so they’ll be able to do even more mitzvot. . . . → Read More: Nomi and Aharon’s Ḥanukah Madrikh!
Aware of the willow [aravah], we awaken our “mouths,” our ability to communicate by voice, hand or type; we acknowledge the precious gift of communications from others, the 99% and the 1%, about their circumstances, their needs, offerings and hopes. Aware of the palm branch [lulav], we awaken our “spines,” our central strength; we acknowledge fellow citizens who take a stand, whether we agree with their stand or not, toward a vision of common good. Aware of the myrtle [hadas], we awaken our “eyes,” our ability to receive through whichever channels are available to us; we acknowledge our responsibility to remain open to others’ thoughts and experiences while also exercising discernment. Aware of the citron [etrog], we awaken our “hearts,” our source of connection; we acknowledge our inter-dependence and the importance of standing, expressing ourselves and learning from others. . . . → Read More: Occupy the Lulav by Virginia Avniel Spatz
In Uman, Ukraine (and in [the Breslov [community] in general) during the repetition of Rosh Hashanah Musaf, when when the ḥazan gets to the special brokha in the Amidah for Yamim Nora’im [the Days of Awe]: . . . → Read More: From Uman to the Olam: Clapping for the Holy Majesty during the Days of Awe
Thank you to Nili Simchai and Yosh Schulman for sharing the Farsi (Persian) Nusaḥ of this profound minhag — the order of reciting kavvanot (intentions) for the New Year. Please help the Open Siddur Project by helping to translate and transcribe all of the Hebrew and Farsi in this seder. Sol’e nu Mobarak! سال نو مبارک — L’shanah Tova! . . . → Read More: The Seder of Kavanot for the Feast of Rosh Hashanah according to a Farsi Nusaḥ
Once upon a time when the Temple still stood, the Rosh Hashanah La’behemot celebrated one means by which we elevated and esteemed the special creatures that helped us to live and to work. Just as rabbinic Judaism found new ways to realize our Temple offerings with tefillot — prayers — so too the Rosh Hashanah La’behemot challenges us to realize the holiness of the animals in our care in a time without tithes. The New Years Day for Animals is a challenge to remind and rediscover what our responsibilities are to the animals who depend on us for their welfare. Are we treating them correctly and in accord with the mitzvah of tza’ar baalei chayim — sensitivity to the suffering of living creatures? Have we studied and understood the depth of ḥesed — lovingkindness — expressed in the breadth of our ancestors teachings concerning the welfare of animals in Torah? Rosh Hashanah La’behemot is the day to reflect on our immediate or mediated relationships with domesticated animals, recognize our personal responsibilities to them, individually and as part of a distinct and holy people, and repair our relationships to the best of our ability. . . . → Read More: ראש השנה לבהמות: explanation and ritual for Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot (New Years Day for Animals)
Tu B’Av, the fifteenth of the month of Av, comes in July or August, at a time when the air is sweltering, the sun is ever-present, and the green plant life is wilting. In Israel, Av is a month of extreme heat when nothing grows. It comes just six days after the 9th of Av, Tisha B’Av, the holiday of mourning, when the Temple is destroyed, when the Shekhinah grieves like a widow who has lost her mate. The first of Tammuz, when we recognize our exile and mortality, lingers in the heat of the air. Yet Tu B’Av is a holiday of dancing and choosing lovers, a holiday of life. It is a turning around of time. It is the moment when the fallen fruit breaks open to reveal the new seed. . . . → Read More: The Fruit of Tu B’Av: explanation and ritual for the 15th of Av by R’ Jill Hammer
Since the Jewish calendar is not affixed to the sun, but corrected by a leap year to its seasons, Tu B’Av does not normally fall on the summer solstice. And yet, the relationship between Tu B’Av and the zenith of the summer is alluded to in Rav Menashya’s statement regarding Tu B’Av, “From this day onwards, he who increases [his knowledge through study as the nights grow longer] will have his life prolonged.” . . . → Read More: Tu B’Av: sources for study and celebration on the 15th of Av
We are grateful to Rabbi Arthur Waskow for contributing his expansion of and meditation on the Shema, originally composed the 6th of Tishrei, 5764 (October 2nd, 2003).
Sh’ma: An Interpretation for the 21st Century
Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el — Listen, You Godwrestlers! Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear — YHWH/ Yahh
Hear in the stillness . . . → Read More: Shema by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Tisha B’Av (the midsummer day of Jewish mourning for the ancient Temples in Jerusalem, and of hope for a transformed future) falls this year, 2011, on Monday evening/Tuesday, August 8-9. In our generation, it can be focused on the endangered Earth as the sacred Temple of all Humanity.
Through The Shalom Center, Tamara Cohen has . . . → Read More: Lament & Hope for Earth: Tisha B’Av for Our Generation (by the Shalom Center and Tamara Cohen)
אָֽנָא, הָאֵל יְיָ, בּוֺרֵא הַשָּׁמַֽיִם וְנוֺטֵיהֶם, רֹֽקַע הָאָֽרֶץ וְצֶאֱצָאֶֽיהָ, נֹתֵן נְשָׁמָה לָעָם עָלֶֽיהָ, וְרֽוּחַ לַהֹלְכִים בָּהּ׃
Please, God Adonai, Who creates the skies and drapes them over the earth, Who spreads out the earth and its descendants, Who grants life to its nations, and vigor to those . . . → Read More: A Civic Minded Prayer for the Government (translated by Alan Scott Belsky)
The day after humankind’s first landing on the Lunar surface July 20, 1969, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on a poetic and topical innovation to the Kiddush Levana, the Blessing over the Moon, by Israeli Armed Forces’ Chief Chaplain General Shlomo Goren in the IDF Siddur. . . . → Read More: Dancing with the Moon: innovations in the Kiddush Levana in light of the first moon landing
We are grateful to the Adamah Fellowship at Isabella Freedman for sharing the morning prayers for their Avodat Lev (Heart Work). The arrangement of prayers is organized on a one page songsheet, with translations shared with a Creative Commons Attribution/ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 3.0 Unported license. . . . → Read More: Seder Avodat Lev: early morning prayers of the farmers of Adamah
We are hereby ready to fulfill our obligation of K’vod Habriot, respect for the dignity of every human being. We pray that our fellow citizens shall not be the source of suffering in others. We commit ourselves to raise our voices in support of universal human rights, to know the heart of the stranger, and to feel compassion for those whose humanity is denied. May our compassion lead us to fight for justice. Blessed is the Source of Life, who redeemed our ancestors from Egypt and brought us together this night of Passover to tell the story of freedom. May God bring us security and peace, enabling us to celebrate together year after year. Praised are you, Source of Righteousness, who redeems the world and loves justice and freedom. . . . → Read More: Pesaḥ Seder Supplements on Economic Justice, Slavery, and other issues of Tzedek
When the spring (Aviv) season arrives, a blessing is traditionally said when one is in view of at least two flowering fruit trees. In the northern hemisphere, it can be said anytime through the end of the month of Nissan (though it can still be said in Iyar). For those who live in the southern hemisphere, the blessing can be said during the month of Tishrei. . . . → Read More: ברכת האילנות | The Blessing of Flowering Fruit Trees in the Spring Season
When works are printed bearing shemot, any one of the ten divine names sacred to Judaism, they are cared for with love. If a page or bound work bearing shemot falls to the ground it’s a Jewish custom to draw up the page or book and kiss it. Just as loved ones are cared for after they’ve fallen and passed away, when the binding fails and leaves fall from siddurim and other seforim they are collected in boxes and bins and brought for burial, where their holy words can decompose back into the earth from which their constituent elements once grew, and were once harvested to become paper and books, and ink, string, glue. While teaching at the Teva Learning Center last Fall 2010, I collected all our shemot that we had intentionally or unintentionally made on our copy machine, or which we had collected from the itinerant teachers who pass through the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center on so many beautiful weekend shabbatonim. While leafing through the pages, I found one and kept it from the darkness of the genizah. . . . → Read More: Barukh Shem Kavod Malkhuto — an illustrated meditation on the unification of imagination and awareness through empathy
Once upon a time, according to the Mishnah, it was the nusaḥ (liturgical tradition) of the Cohanim in the Bet Hamikdash for the Ten Commandments to be read prior to the Sh’ma. Here’s the relevant teaching from Mishnah Tamid (32b in Talmud Bavli Tamid), emphasis mine:
מתני’ אמר להם הממונה ברכו ברכה אחת והם ברכו . . . → Read More: Adventures in Ancient Jewish Liturgy: The Ten Commandments and the Sh’ma in the Nash Papyrus
Shmuel Gonzales, who has for years now been transcribing sections of the Nusah Ha-Ari (comparable to the liturgy in Siddur Tehillat Hashem and the Siddur Torah Ohr) graciously shared his latest work: a transcription of the midnight devotional liturgy called the Tikkun Ḥatzot. What follows is Shmuel’s introduction to this work. (All of Shmuel’s transcriptions . . . → Read More: Tikkun Ḥatzot: Getting Right at Midnight
In 1960, Sara Levi-Tanaiׁ (1910-2005) published the now popular Ḥanukah song and melody Banu Ḥosekh l’Garesh in a songbook, Zman Ḥeyn (p.49) by the Publishing House of the Composers’ League in cooperation with the Center for Culture and Education (הופיע בספר/חוברת “זמר חן”, בית הוצאה של איגוד הקומפוזיטורים בשיתוף עם המרכז לתרבות ולחינוך). The work . . . → Read More: When will Banu Ḥoshekh L’Garesh enter the Public Domain?
From the Pri Etz Hadar, the first ever published seder for Tu Bishvat, circa 17th century: “speech has the power to arouse the sefirot and to cause them to shine more wondrously with a very great light that sheds abundance, favor, blessing, and benefit throughout all the worlds. Consequently, before eating each fruit, it is proper to meditate on the mystery of its divine root, as found in the Zohar and, in some cases, in the tikkunim, in order to arouse their roots above.” . . . → Read More: Pri Etz Hadar, the first ever Tu BiShvat Seder (circa 17th Century)
תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת עבודה זרה פרק א ה”א – דף לט טור ג
רב אמר קלנדס אדם הראשון התקינו. כיון דחמא לילייא אריך אמר אי לי שמא שכתוב בו הוא ישופך ראש ואתה תשופנו עקב שמא יבוא לנשכיני ואומר אך חושך ישופיני.
כיון דחמא איממא ארך אמר קלנדס קלון דיאו. ואיתא כמאן דאמ’ בתשרי . . . → Read More: Ḥanukah Sources in Rabbinic Midrash
Just in time for Ḥanukah, Chajm Guski shares a חנוכה מדריך (Ḥanukah Madrikh), Handbook for Ḥanukah, with a Deutsch translation and transliteration of the blessings on lighting the Ḥanukiah, the kavanah, HaNerot HaLalu, and the piyyut, Maoz Tzur. . . . → Read More: A Ḥanukah Madrikh by Chajm Guski
God of all spirit, all directions, all winds You have placed in our hands power unlike any since the world began to overturn the orders of creation. . . . → Read More: A Prayer for the Earth
It started as a project to compile a siddur that I could daven from. Living in Chicago, most of the siddurim which are available are Artscroll, Birnbaum, etc. Just to try and find a Rodelheim, or Baer’s Avodat Yisroel is nearly impossible. That was about twelve years ago. . . . → Read More: סידור שפת ישראל | Siddur Sefas Yisroel, a nusaḥ Ashkenaz siddur dedicated to the memory of the Bad Homburg Jewish community