Jews have read sacred texts to commemorate miracles of redemption for a long time. Purim has Megilat Esther. Many communities read Megilat Antiochus or Megilat Yehudit for Chanukah. But to many modern Jews, the most miraculous redemption in recent history was the founding of the state of Israel, as we commemorate on Yom haAtzmaut. Like Purim, the story of the founding of Israel was entirely secular on a surface level, with no big showy miracles like a sea splitting or a mountain aflame. Like Chanukah, a Jewish state in the land of Israel won its independence against mighty forces allied in opposition. But we don’t have a megillah to read for Yom haAtzmaut. Or do we? Just as Megillat Esther is said to be a letter written by Mordekhai to raise awareness of the events of Shushan, so too does the Israeli Scroll of Independence, Megilat haAtzmaut, raise awareness of the events of the founding of the State of Israel. In this vein, I decided to create a cantillation system for Megilat haAtzmaut. Ta’amei miqra were chosen attempting to follow Masoretic grammatical rules – since modern Hebrew has a different grammatical structure, the form is somewhat loose. Because of the thematic similarities to Purim, I chose Esther cantillation for the majority of the text. Just as some tragic lines in Esther are read in Eikhah cantillation, some lines regarding the Shoah or bearing grim portents for the wars to follow are to be sung in Eikhah cantillation. And the final phrases of chapters II and III are to be sung in the melody for the end of a book of the Chumash, or the Song of the Sea melody. They can be done in a call-and-response form, with the community reading and the reader repeating. . . .
This prayer for the peace of the Syrian people was composed in 2013 by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow and translated by Elli Sacks of Modi’in. Our Hebrew source of the text was first published in this YNet article. Our source for Elli Sacks’s translation is this post in Alan Brill’s blog. Rabbi Cherlow suggests that Psalms 37 and Psalms 120 are particularly appropriate for praying for peace in Syria. Both psalms speak of the plight of the innocent righteous when evil men plot against them. Thank you to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for informing us of this prayer, and to YNet, and Alan Brill for providing the source text. . . .
This prayer for peace for the citizens of Syria and residents of Aleppo was first published by the Masorti Movement in Israel, via their web page here. The prayer was transcribed to Unicode Hebrew by Aharon Varady. Translation adapted by Aharon from one provided by Rivka Kellner in a Facebook comment. . . .
Siddur Livnat HaSapir l’Kabbalat Shabbat is a complete prayerbook (siddur) for welcoming the Shabbat on nearly all Friday evenings. This is the personal prayerbook of Aharon Varady, containing his idiosyncratic preferences in liturgical custom and aesthetic presentation. . . .
“The Song of Miriam” by Rabbi Ruth Sohn was first published as “I Shall Sing to the Lord a New Song,” in Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim, Reconstructionist Prayerbook, 1989, 1995 Second Edition. Reconstructionist Press, pp. 768-769. (This poem was also published in several haggadot and other books and set to music by several composers in the U.S. and Israel.) Rabbi Sohn wrote the poem in 1981 as a rabbinical student after immersing herself in the Torah verses and the traditional midrashim about Miriam, and after writing a longer modern midrash about Miriam. Part of this modern midrash was published as “Journeys,” in All the Women Followed Her, ed. Rebecca Schwartz (Rikudei Miriam Press, 2001). . . .
The siddur, Aḅodath Yisrael was first prepared for Temple Oheb Shalom (Baltimore, Maryland) by Rabbi Benjamin Szold (1829-1902). Before Szold’s arrival in 1859, the congregation had adopted for use in its Shabbat service the Minhag America by the Reform rabbi, Isaac Meyer Wise. After much discussion with his congregation Szold introduced Aḅodath Yisrael, which hewed more closely to traditional Ashkenazi custom. The first edition of this prayer-book appeared in 1863 with German translation, and was widely adopted by congregations in the United States. New editions were published in 1864 and 1865 (the latter with English translation), and another, revised edition in 1871, by Rabbis Marcus Jastrow of Philadelphia (1829-1903) and Henry Hochheimer of Baltimore (1818-1912). . . .
Ribon Kol Ha-Olamim is a teḥinah (supplication) for entering the Shabbat that can be found in many siddurim following after the custom of the school of Rabbi Yitsḥak Luria. In his Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem, Paltiel (Philip) Birnbaum includes it, commenting as follows: “Ribon kol Ha’Olamim is attributed to Rabbi Joseph of Rashkow, Posen, who lived towards the end of the eighteenth century. The adjectives in the first paragraph are in alphabetic order.” This can’t be correct however as a copy of Ribon Kol Ha-Olamim can be seen in the siddur Tikunei Shabbat from 1614 (see below for source images). Google Books attributes Tikunei Shabbat to Rabbi Yitsḥak Luria (1534-1572), which is the attribution we have followed, although as a posthumously published work we wonder whether it might be more properly attributed to “the School of Rabbi Isaac Luria.” Please comment below if you know of another attribution. The English translation is that of Paltiel (Philip) Birnbaum, with some minor changes that I have made to divine names and appelations.– Aharon Varady . . .
This manual has been devised for the express purpose of giving the Rabbi, or anyone officiating at a Jewish ceremonial or ritual, a concise and practical aid that will facilitate the task of officiating , and will obviate the necessity of resorting to the voluminous literature pertaining thereto. . . .
This translation of Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik’s Shabbat Ha-Malkah by Israel Meir Lask can be found on pages 280-281 in the Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945) where it appears as “Greeting to Queen Sabbath.” The poem is based on the shabbat song, Shalom Aleikhem and first published in the poetry collection, Hazamir, in 1903. [I have made a faithful transcription of the Hebrew and its English translation as it appears in this siddur. –Aharon N. Varady] . . .
Paltiel (Philip) Birnbaum’s translation of The Song of Songs (Shir haShirim) in Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem (The [Complete] Daily Prayer Book), Hebrew Publishing Company, 1949. . . .
Rabbi Marvin Hier offered this prayer of blessing for “President” Donald Trump and the United States of America on January 20, 2017 at the inauguration day ceremony. . . .
Because of my commitment to the integrity of prayer, starting this week, I can no longer recite or say amen to the Shabbat prayer for the success of the U.S. President.
So I have drafted a new prayer that I will plan to recite each Shabbat morning. If you also feel it’s important to pray . . .
The goal of this project was to produce a complete prayerbooklet for the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma’ariv service that was as compact as possible yet user-friendly. This booklet is designed to be printed on 9 double-sided sheets of paper, folded and saddle stapled. It was commissioned for a minyan held annually at the Arisia science fiction convention in Boston, MA, and dedicated in honor of Leonard Nimoy, z”l (1931–2015). Since Arisia takes place in mid-January, we omitted all special insertions for holidays and other times of year. A companion booklet which includes insertions for year-round use is in the works. . . .
Selections from speeches and letters by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. read in ecumenical services for Martin Luther King Day in the United States. . . .
This is a largely uncorrected transcription of Rabbi Isaac Magriso’s telling of Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) from the Me’am Loez: Bamidbar Parshat BeHe’alotekha (Constantinople, 1764). The paragraph breaks are a rough estimation based on my comparison with the English translation of Dr. Tzvi Faier (1934-2009) appearing in The Torah Anthology: Me’am Loez, Book Thirteen – In the Desert (Moznaim 1982). I welcome all Ladino speakers and readers to help correct this transcription and to provide a complete English translation for non-Ladino readers. . . .
The Prayer for the Fire (תפילה לעת שרפה) was first published by the Masorti Foundation at their website here in response to the November 2016 wildfires in Israel. Translation by Rabbi Jonah Rank. Transcription by Aharon Varady. . . .
A blessing by Reb Zalman for Peace, Health, Joy, Prosperity, and Kindness which he wrote in spray paint on a municipal water tank behind his house in Colorado. . . .
A prayer for the electorate to be recited together with the Prayer for Government on the Shabbat before an election (federal, state, or local). David Zvi Kalman’s “Prayer for the Electorate” was initially published on Ritualwell here and linked from an explanation of the prayer posted here. Vocalization of the unpointed text by Josh Soref. (Thank you!) . . .
On Tuesday, we go to the polls in a momentous election that for many of us has generated a combination of anxiety, excitement, fear, and confusion. We offer you this prayer, which you can recite this Shabbat, before you vote, or while you are waiting for returns. . . .
This eulogy by Andrew Meit was read at Temple Beit Ami in Rockville, Maryland at the funeral of Benjamin Meit. Andrew writes, “Ben would have turned 19 next week. He died from complications from depression and mental illness.” Donations in Ben’s memory may be made here. If you or anyone you know is in need of help, please call 911, or 1-800 273 8255, the national suicide prevention hotline. . . .
Benyamim Sedaka’s English translations of devotional prayers for weekdays and Shabbat . . .
Benyamim Sedaka’s English translations of the Israelite-Samaritan “Blessing on the Food” (Kiddush) and Abraham ben Marchiv Tsedaka Hassafari’s opening to the Friday night Shabbat meal . . .
Benyamim’s Sedaka’s English translations of the Israelite-Samaritan “Prayer to be Read by the Eldest Reader of the Sabbath Portion” and Abraham ben Marchiv Tsedaka Hassafari’s poem to be read after reading the last portion of the Torah reading . . .
Vidui means acknowledgment. It is not about self-flagellation or blame, but about honesty, coming into contact with our lives, our patterns and experiences, and ultimately about teshuva and learning. In contacting the pain and suffering which our modes of being have given rise to, our regret can help us to willfully divest ourselves of them and awaken the yearning for those modes of being which are life-affirming, supportive of wholeness, connection, integrity, and flourishing. With each one we tap on our heart, touching the pain and closed-heartedness we have caused, and simultaneously knocking on the door that it may open again. . . .
The full text of Rabbi Julie Schonfeld’s benediction offered at the end of the first day of the Democratic National Convention, July 25th, 2016. . . .
Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez writes, “Rav Avi spoke to us a few times as he was working through [composing] this [vidui] and I am truly moved by it. Let us not only remember and confess our wrong doings, but also what we did right this year.” . . .
David Wolkin writes, “I’ve been pushing this writing exercise for a while now, but I taught a class with it in my home on Sunday and it proved to be powerful and connecting for all of us in the room. If you’re reflecting/repenting this season, you might benefit from this.” . . .
An egalitarian adaptation of the seliḥa for Yom Kippur. . . .
This is a complete* Jewish Renewal/Reconstructionist Machzor for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, primarily influenced by the davennin of Reb Zalman and the Aquarian Minyan. All text in English is gender-neutral. All Hebrew prayers are accompanied by transliteration. Material for Shabbat is at the back of the book. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers . . .