בסיעתא דשמיא

תהלים ל׳ בלשון אנגלית | Psalms 30 by David (interpretive translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English) מִזְמ֡וֹר שִׁיר־חֲנֻכַּ֖ת הַבַּ֣יִת לְדָוִֽד׃ A Psalm for A Housewarming, Composed by David ב אֲרוֹמִמְךָ֣ יְ֭הוָה כִּ֣י דִלִּיתָ֑נִי וְלֹא־שִׂמַּ֖חְתָּ אֹיְבַ֣י לִֽי׃ ג יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָ֑י שִׁוַּ֥עְתִּי אֵ֝לֶ֗יךָ וַתִּרְפָּאֵֽנִי׃ ד יְֽהוָ֗ה הֶֽעֱלִ֣יתָ מִן־שְׁא֣וֹל נַפְשִׁ֑י חִ֝יִּיתַ֗נִי מיורדי־[מִיָּֽרְדִי־] בֽוֹר׃ 2 I acclaim You, my God. You set me free So that my foes Could not gloat at my troubles. . . .

תפילה יהודית לחודש הרמדאן | صلاة يهودية لشهر رمضان | A Jewish Prayer for the Month of Ramadan by Rav Ḥanan Schlesinger

Source (Hebrew) Translation (Arabic) אבינו שבשמים, בורא עולם, אשר יצר כל אדם בצלמו

ابانا في السماء, خالق الكون, الذي خلق كل انسان في صورته,

רחם על מאמיניך המוסלמים אשר הולכים בדרכו של נביאם מוחמד ואשר מקדישים את חודש הרמדאן הזה לשמך בצום, בתפילה, בתיקון המידות ובקריאה בספרם הקדוש הקוראן.

اللهم ارحم المسلمين الذين . . .

סדר לקריאת מגילת העצמאות | Reading of the Israeli Declaration of Independence for Yom Ha’atsma’ut

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. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for Donald Trump by Rabbi Marvin Hier (2017)

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. . . .

Prayer at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom by Rabbi Uri Miller, August 28, 1963

Prayer delivered by Rabbi Uri Miller, President of the Synagogue Council of America, at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963 . . .

MLK Day | Readings from the Speeches and Letters of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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. . . .

Megillat Antiokhus in Ladino by Rabbi Isaac Magriso (Me’am Lo’ez: Bamdibar BeHa’alothekha, Constantinople 1764)

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. . . .

תפילה למצביעי המדינה | Prayer for the Electorate by David Zvi Kalman (2016)

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!) . . .

A Prayer on Voting by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

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. . . .

יום הפועלים | A Worker’s Prayer

dedicated to Noam Ezra ben haRav Moshe z”l

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלִּפְֿנֵי אָבִֽֿינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַֽיִם,‏ בּוֹרְאֵֽנוּ, יוֹצְרֵֽנוּ, יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁיתֿ, הָאֻמָּן הָעֶלְיוֹן,‏ כְּאָמְרָם ”אֵין צוּר כֵּאלֹהֵֽינוּ“ – ‏ ”אֵין צַיָּר כֵּאלֹהֵֽינוּ“,‏ שֶׁיְּחָנֵּ֫נוּ בְכָֿל הַחָכְֿמוֹתֿ —‏ חָכְֿמוֹתֿ הַלֵּבֿ, וְחָכְֿמוֹתֿ הַנֶּֽפֶֿשׁ,‏ וְחָכְֿמוֹתֿ הַיָּדַֿיִם;‏ וְיַנְחֵֽנוּ בִדְֿרָכָֿיו לַעֲשׂוֹתֿ אֶתֿ מְלַאכְֿתֵּנוּ בְּיֹֽשֶׁר, וּבְֿחֶֽסֶדֿ, וּבֶֿאֱמוּנָה;‏ וִיבָֿרֵךְֿ אֶתֿ מַעֲשֵֽׂינוּ וְאֶתֿ מַעֲשֵׂי מַעֲשֵֽׂינוּ,‏ לְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת שְׁמוֹ . . .

בורא עד אנה | Borei Ad Anah, “Creator! How long” (after 1492 C.E.)

Bore ‘Ad Anah” is a kinah recited in a number of Sephardic communities on Tisha B’av (or in some cases on Shabbat Hazon, the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’av), particularly in the Spanish-Portuguese and North African traditions. The author is unknown, but his name is likely Binyamin based on the acrostic made up of the first letters of the verses. In the kinah, the Children of Israel are compared to a wandering dove caught in a trap by predators, crying out its father, God. The kinah was likely written as a poignant response to the Spanish Inquisition, appropriate to Tisha B’av since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain occurred on the 9th of Av in the year 1492. The version presented here was likely censored, as many manuscripts have the fifth verse presented in the following manner directly calling out their Catholic oppressors,” יועצים עליה עצות היא אנושה זרים העובדים אלילים שלושה אם ובן ורוח כי אין להם בושה גדול ממכאובי.” “They counsel against her and she languishes, the strangers who worship three idols, father, son and spirit, for they have no shame and great is my suffering.” . . .

מגילת איכה | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha b’Av (translation by Rabbi David Seidenberg, neohasid.org)

This translation of Laments, the book of mourning poems read on Tish’a B’Av, uses principles of the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible. It strives to be “concordant”, translating related Hebrew words with related English words and following the order and syntax of the Hebrew where possible. It also focuses on the more physical, earthy meaning of words, in order to draw the reader from modern towards more ancient ways of seeing and feeling. Sometimes alternate translations are given, indicated by a slash. (When reading aloud, simply pick one of the translations. For YHVH, you can read Adonai or Hashem or “the Eternal”.) James Moffat’s 1922 translation was consulted. As a somewhat literal translation, Laments uses “He” and “His” as pronouns for God, even though Torah and common sense command us not to make an exclusively male or female image of God. If you are using Laments liturgically, please feel encouraged to change the pronouns. For brief essays on the theology of Eikhah and more, see the bottom of this page. This work is dedicated to all refugees fleeing war and upheaval, and to our remembering their needs. . . .

חנוכה | Yotser (Hymn) for the Shabbat of Ḥanukah by Yosef bar Shlomo of Carcassone (ca. 11th cent.)

Yosef ben Shlomo of Carcassonne composed two yotsrot (hymns) for the Shabbat of Hanukkah, one reflecting the events read in the Megillat Antiokhus, the other specific to Megillat Yehudith. This yotser is the latter of the two and was crucial in dating the composition of Megillat Yehudit to the 11th century. (The only manuscript witness of the megillah dates from 1402.) A.M. Dubarle made a translation of the yotser in French in Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), but we are endeavoring to translate it for the first time into English. Our transcription relies on Dubarle’s but is corrected it against the digital edition held in the Ma’agarim database. . . .

מגילת יהודית | Megillat Yehudit (before 1402 CE)

Below we have made a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, originally published as “Food, Sex, and Redemption in Megillat Yehudit: Appendix to Chapter 6,” in Sword of Judith. ed., Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti, Henrike Lähnemann (Open Book Publishers, 2010) p.110-125. Our transcription sources are the same as Dr. Weingarten’s: A.M. Habermann’s transcribed text in “Megillat yehudit le-omrah be-hanukkah,” Mahanayim 52 (1961), pp. 42–47, and the “Midrash No.8” found in A.M. Dubarle’s Judith: formes et sens des diverses traditions II: textes (Rome, 1966), pp. 140–53. Dubarle provided section numbers by which the extant variations of the midrashim for Judith might be compared. As Dr. Weingarten notes, Dubarle only transcribed the second portion of the only extant manuscript. We have provided his section numbers in curly brackets. “Missing” numbers refer to portions of the story appearing outside the Megillah in the other variations transcribed by Dubarle. (Please refer to Dubarle’s work for these.) We are grateful to Dr. Weingarten and to Open Book Publishers for sharing their work under an Open Content license. Please read Dr. Weingarten’s complete chapter in Sword of Judith for additional context. . . .

חנוכה | Odekha Ki Anafta Bi, a Yotser (Hymn) for Ḥanukah by Yosef bar Shlomo of Carcassone (ca. 11th cent.)

Odecha ki anafta bi (I give thanks to you although you were angry with me) was composed by Joseph ben Solomon of Carcassonne, who is dated to the first half of the eleventh century. This elegant and abstruse poem tells an epic tale of the Jews’ resistance to the decrees of Antiochus IV and includes accounts of both the Hasmonean bride and Judith. It bears a considerable resemblance to texts 4 and 12 of the Hanukkah midrashim[ref]See Grintz, Sefer Yehudit, pp. 205, 207–08[/ref] and this is evidence for the circulation of the joint Hasmonean daughter-Judith tales in the eleventh century, even if the surviving manuscripts of these stories are from a later date.” (Deborah Levine Gera, “The Jewish Textual Traditions” in The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across the Disciplines (2010).) . . .

על הניסים ליום העצמאות | Al Hanissim for Yom Ha’atsmaut by Amos Ḥakham z”l

על הניסים ועל הפורקן ועל הגבורות ועל המלחמות ועל התשועות ועל הנפלאות שעשית לעמך בימים ההם בזמן הזה. בימים אשר שארית פליטת ישראל עם שרידי חרב הצר והאויב מצא מנוח בארץ אשר נשבעת לאבותינו לתת לנו ונוספו על בני ישראל היושבים שם מלפנים, יחד כולם ביקשו לפרוק מעליהם עול מלכות זדון השולטת בארץ ולייסד . . .

‏אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים תְפִילָה לַנִּסְפִּים בַּשּׁוֹאָה | El Malé Raḥamim Prayer for the Victims of the Shoah by Rabbi Yehoyada Amir

God, full of compassion, who dwells in the heights, provide a fitting rest upon the wings of the Shekhina, within the ascents of the holy and the pure, who shine like the starry heaven for our six million sisters and brothers who lost their lives in the Shoah: that were killed and slaughtered, suffocated and buried alive, burned and tortured — the young and the elderly, women and men, leaders and simpletons, those faithful in Torah along with rebels and dreamers. Beloved and pleasant in life, and not separated from that love even after death. . . .

יום ניקנור | A Reading for Yom Nikanor, the Day of the Elephantarch: II Maccabees Chapter 13-15

It is challenging to think of how to mark Nicanor Day, as it remains at a disadvantage, not only on years when it conflicts with Ta’anit Esther but on all years since it has no mitzvot. This is probably the main reason that, unlike Chanukah and Purim, it was lost to Jewish practice for more than a thousand years. Nevertheless, we do have its megillah, which has been translated into Hebrew and English. Perhaps, if we start reading chapters 13-15 of 2 Maccabees, even just to ourselves, on the 13 of Adar, we can begin to resurrect a holiday that was celebrated and instituted by Judah Maccabee and his followers over two millennia ago, and which they envisioned would continue throughout Jewish History. With the return of Jews to Israel and Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem, I believe it is about time. . . .

ז׳ אדר | Ḥonenu Yah Ḥonenu (Forgive Us Yah in the Merit of Moshe Rabbenu)

The 7th of Adar is the traditional date for the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu and it is also remembered as the day of his birth 120 years earlier. This variation of of the piyyut, Hanenu Yah Hanenu (Forgive Us Yah, Forgive Us), sung on 7 Adar, is attributed to Rabbi Yosef Ḥayyim of Baghdad (the Ben Ish Ḥai, 1832-1909). The earliest published version we could find appears in בקשות: ונוסף עוד פתיחות ופיוטים הנוהגים לומר בזמה הזה (1912) containing piyyutim by Israel ben Moses Najara (1555-1625), a Jewish liturgical poet, preacher, Biblical commentator, kabbalist, and rabbi of Gaza. The contemporary audio recording of the Iraqi nusaḥ presented here was made by משה חבושה (Moshe Ḥavusha). . . .

ז׳ אדר | Tsa’akah Yokheved, a piyyut attributed to Shmuel Shlomo (before 1050 CE)

The 7th of Adar is the traditional date for the yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu and it is also remembered as the day of his birth 120 years earlier. This variation of of the piyyut, Tsa’akah Yokheved, popularly sung on 7 Adar, is first attested in a 1712 Sepharadi mahzor published in Amsterdam, as transcribed above with some minor changes with the contemporary audio recording of the Iraqi nusaḥ made by משה חבושה (Moshe Ḥavusha). (The piyyut appear without niqqud.) An older version (perhaps the original version), attributed in the Maagarim database to Shmuel Shlomo and dated before 1050 CE, is attested in two manuscripts: “London, British Library 699” and “Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Ham. 288”. Ibn Ezra (1089-1167) quotes a stanza from the version we have presented here (“וכבד אמי אחרי התנחמי”) indicating that this version may be at least as old. . . .

שִׁיר לְשִׂמְחָה | Shir l’Simḥa (an ode To Joy, 1795), a Jewish interpretation of Friedrich Schiller’s An die Freude (1785)

In 1785 Friedrich Schiller wrote his ‘An die Freude\ an ode ‘To Joy’, describing his ideal of an equal society united in joy and friendship. Numerous copies and adaptations attest to its popularity at the time. The slightly altered 1803 edition was set to music not only by Ludwig van Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony but also by other composers such as Franz Schubert and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Hs. Ros. PL B-57 contains a Hebrew translation of the first edition of the ode (apparently rendered before the 1803 alteration), revealing that the spirit of the age even managed to reach the Jewish community in the Netherlands. Whereas the imagery of Schiller’s original is drawn from Greek mythology, the author of the שִׁיר לְשִׂמְחָה relies on the Bible as a source. In fact, he not only utilises Biblical imagery, but successfully avoids any allusion to Hellenistic ideas whatsoever. . . .

שִׁיר לְשִׂמְחָה | Brider — Y.L. Peretz’s Yiddish Parody of Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy

Y.L. Peretz rejected cultural universalism, seeing the world as composed of different nations, each with its own character. Liptzin comments that “Every people is seen by him as a chosen people…”; he saw his role as a Jewish writer to express “Jewish ideals…grounded in Jewish tradition and Jewish history.” This is Peretz lampoon of the popularity of Friedrich Schiller’s idealistic paean made famous as the lyrics to the climax of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. . . .

A Jewish Prayer for Peace between England and her Colonies on a public day of fasting and prayer, May 17, 1776

Fred MacDowell: “Then, as now, war was looked upon by many as a great evil, especially between brothers, and many American Colonists only wanted the oppressive measures of King George III to be lifted, bloodshed ended, and peace restored. The nascent American Congress called for a day of “Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer” along these lines for May 17, 1776. It was for this occasion that this prayer was recited in Congregation Shearith Israel in New York. As you can see, a complete service was arranged for this occasion, meant to invoke the solemnity and seriousness of the occasion; after morning prayer, Taḥanun was to be sung to the tune of a Yom Kippur pizmon; a dozen Psalms recited, and then the Ḥazan would recite this prayer written for the occasion, and of course all were to be fasting. The prayer hopes for a change of heart for King George III and his advisors, that they would rescind their wrath and harsh decrees against “North America,” that the bloodshed should end, and peace and reconciliation should obtain between the Americans and Great Britain once more, in fulfillment of the Messianic verse that Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Of course this was not meant to be, and six weeks later the American Congress declared independence from Great Britain, and there was no walking back from the hostilities which had already occurred.” . . .

תפילה לשלום המלכות | Prayer for the Welfare of George Washington, George Clinton, and the 13 States of America by Hendla Jochanan van Oettingen (1784)

Prayers recited on special occasions and thus not part of the fixed liturgy offered America’s foremost Jewish congregation far greater latitude for originality in prayer. At such services, particularly when the prayers were delivered in English and written with the knowledge that non-Jews would hear them, leaders of Shearith Israel often dispensed with the traditional prayer for the government and substituted revealing new compositions appropriate to the concerns of the day. A prayer composed in 1784 (in this case in Hebrew) by the otherwise unknown Rabbi (Cantor?) Hendla Jochanan van Oettingen, for example, thanked God who “in His goodness prospered our warfare.” Mentioning by name both Governor George Clinton and General George Washington, the rabbi prayed for peace and offered a restorationist Jewish twist on the popular idea of America as “redeemer nation”: “As Thou hast granted to these thirteen states of America everlasting freedom,” he declared, “so mayst Thou bring us forth once again from bondage into freedom and mayst Thou sound the great horn for our freedom.” . . .

חנוכה | Ḥanukkah Sameaḥ Mandala by Ḥatul Yehudi (Cat Jew)

A mandala for Ḥanukkah by Brazilian Yemenite Jewish artist, GatoJudeau . . .

צער בעלי־חיים | Tsar Balei Ḥayyim [It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature, a song in Yiddish

“Tsaar Balei Ḥayyim” ([It is forbidden to cause] suffering to a living creature), source unknown. Many thanks to Tiferet Zimmern-Kahan for recording the niggun for the song and to Naftali Ejdelman and The Jewish Daily Forward for providing the lyrics. . . .

חנוכה | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah

This digital edition of Midrash Ma’seh Ḥanukah was transcribed from the print edition published in Otzar Hamidrashim (I. D. Eisenstein, New York: Eisenstein Press, 5675/1915, p.189-190). We are sharing this transcription in the hopes that excellent translations will be prepared from it and shared under an Open Content license. . . .

חנוכה | Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages), singing translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

A singing translation of the popular piyyut (devotional poem), “Maoz Tzur,” by Reb Zalman for Ḥanukah. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | A Memory’s fire burns within me still, adapted from “Esh Tukad b’kirbi” by Andrew Meit

“A Memory’s fire burns within me still” was adapted by Andrew Meit from Gabriel Seed’s translation of the kinah, Aish Tukad b’kirbi (“A Fire Shall Burn Within Me”). . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Alelai Li: Woe is me! by Elazar ben Killir, circa 7th century CE (translated by Rachel Salston)

Alelai Li” is a kinah recited on the morning of Tisha bAv. It was written by HaKalir around the 7th century. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 17 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem and is an onomatopoeic whimper (try saying it aloud, focusing on the alliteration). It is difficult to translate the opening word “im” which means “if” or “should”. This is an allusion to Job 10:15, “If I have done evil, then woe unto me.” I have decided to translate the kinah not in the conditional tense (which would render “If these horrible things happened, then woe is me!”) but as a lament upon memory; however, the former would be a more accurate (if not more awkward in English) translation. Adding to the awkwardness of the poem’s language is the feminine conditional verb that each line has after the word “im”. I have maintained this strange verb tense and placement in my translation by using the English progressive tense. The kinah ends with a collection in lines in a different meter suggesting that the Holy One (and the paytan himself) is angered that the Jewish people announce their sufferings but not their transgressions. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Oy Meh Haya Lanu: Oy What Has Happened to Us, by Baruch ben Samuel d.1221 (translated by Rachel Salston)

Oy Meh Haya Lanu” is a kinah traditionally recited on the night of Tisha b’Av directly after the reading of Eikha. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 1 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem, a reflective lament. This kinah is based on the fifth and final chapter of Eikha, taking the opening phrase of each line of the megillah as the first line of each couplet and poetically expanding the description for the second. This translation is an attempt to convey the vulgarity and horror of the paytan’s depiction of the destroyed Jerusalem in vernacular English. The kinah ends just as the megillah ends, with the four verses of pleas for redemption. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu: Then As Jeremiah Went, by Elazar ben Killir circa 7th century CE (translated by Gabriel Seed)

Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu is a kinah, “based on Eikhah Rabati Petikhta 24, in which Jeremiah says to God: “I am like a father who prepared to take his only son to be married, and the son tragically died under the wedding canopy. Do you not feel any pain for me or for my son?” God responds: “Go and rouse Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses from their graves, for they know how to cry…” (Daniel Goldschmidt, Seder Kinot le-Tisha b’Av, Jerusalem, 1972, 98). . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | v’Ahimah Miyamim Yamimah: I Will Wail for All Time (translated by Hillary and Daniel Chorny)

V’ahimah Miyamim Yamimah” is a kinah that recounts the tragic tale of the children of Rabbi Yishmael as told in the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 58a). The handsome brother and fair sister were separated and sold into slavery during the conquest of Jerusalem. Their respective masters, not knowing the two were siblings, paired them with the intent of creating beautiful offspring. In their shared cell, the two wept all night until morning, when they recognized one another. They cried on each other’s necks until their souls departed from their bodies. The narrator of our story laments their terrible fate, ending each verse with a haunting refrain: “And so I will wail for all time.” . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Esh Tukad b’Kirbi: A Fire Shall Burn Within Me, translated by Gabriel Seed

Aish Tukad is a kinah for Tisha B’av, usually recited towards the conclusion of the set of dirges for the morning service (in Goldshmidt’s numbering, it is number 32 of our 46 Kinot). According to Goldshmidt’s introduction, the structure of this Piyyut is based on a Midrash in Eicha Zuta 19, where Moses’ praises for God and Israel are seen as parallel to Jeremiah’s laments, thus creating the concept of a comparison between the joy of the Exodus and the pain of the Temple’s destruction. . . .

A Prayer for Israel by Rabbi Nahum Waldman z”l for T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

This prayer for Israel was written by Rabbi Naḥum Waldman (1931-2004) for T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. T’ruah works to ensure that Israel remains a safe and secure home for Jews and a place that lives up to the ideal stated in the State of Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence that Israel “will foster the development of the country for all of its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Richard M. Nixon by Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin (1969)

This prayer by Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1969. . . .

תפילות לבחירות | Prayers for the Elections by Noa Mazor and Rabbi Oded Mazor

ההכרזה על יום הבחירות בנויה על נוסח ברכת החודש, ומיועדת להיאמר בשחרית של שבת לפני הבחירות. קהילות שאינן נוהגות להתפלל בשחרית מוזמנות להשתמש בתפילה בתפילת קבלת שבת של אותה השבת. נכתב על ידי הרב עודד מזור.‏ . . .

פורים | Purim: Esther’s Global Leadership Proposal by Dr. Bonna Devora Haberman

What are the inner workings of such an intricately crafted story that it devolves into so much gratuitous violence at the end? Haman’s racism follows imminently upon the heels of the king’s sexism. Indeed, the root of Haman’s wrath against Mordekhai and the Jews parallels the king’s fury against Vashti and the women. Both Vashti and Mordekhai refused to submit to degradation before authority. Disdain for and subordination of women are pre-conditions for the progression toward violent evils that threaten to prevail under the jester-king. One of the fundaments of feminism is that until we fix the basic gender dyad, there will be no resolution of other derivative inequalities, prejudices, and abuses—at personal, ethnic, national, and global levels. Core relationships between woman and man must embody mutual respect, dignity, and equality in our humanity. . . .

קינות לתשעה באב | Eli Tsiyon v’Ar’eha (Mourn Zion and her cities) translated by Joel Goldstein

Mourn Zion and her cities, like a woman in her birth pains, And like a maiden wrapped in sack-cloth for the husband of her youth Mourn the palace that was abandoned in the sheep’s negligence of its flock, and for the coming of the revulsion of God within the Temple’s rooms. For the exile of the servants of God, who sing her songs, and for their blood that was spilled like the waters of her rivers. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Lyndon B. Johnson by Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel (1965)

This prayer by Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel, Congregation Beth Israel (Houston, Texas), was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1965. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Ronald Reagan by Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk (1985)

This prayer by Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk at the second inauguration of President Ronald Reagan was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 21, 1985. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Richard M. Nixon by Rabbi Seymour Siegel (1973)

This prayer by Rabbi Seymour Siegel at the second inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1973. . . .

Inauguration Day Benediction for President John F. Kennedy by Rabbi Dr. Nelson Glueck (1961)

This benediction for President John F. Kennedy by Rabbi Dr. Nelson Glueck, was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record on January 20, 1961. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Rabbi Dr. Louis Finkelstein (1957)

This prayer at the second inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Rabbi Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record for January 20, 1957. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver (1953)

This prayer by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, of Cleveland, Ohio, was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record for January 20, 1953. . . .

Inauguration Day Prayer for President Harry S. Truman by Rabbi Samuel Thurman (1949)

This prayer by Rabbi Samuel Thurman, of the United Hebrew Temple (St. Louis, Missouri), was recorded in the United States’ Congressional Record for January 20, 1949. . . .

פותח שערים | A liturgy for the new moon Ḥanukah solstice by Rabbi David Seidenberg

Here’s a first draft of a brief liturgy for last night, for solstice plus Ḥanukah. Note that this is a kind of eco-liturgy, but it also stands on its own without imposing an ecological overlay. Since it’s still solstice all day, you may want to use this prayer now, or at dusk tonight. . . .

עשרה בטבת | Asarah b’Tevet and the Tragic Side of Ḥanukah by Rabbi Shem Tov Gaguine (1934)

Why is the military victory of the Maccabees not referred to in the Mishna or Gemara but is mentioned only in later writings and in the prayer of Al Ha’Nissim? . . .

מגילת אנטיוכוס | Megillat Antiochus translated into German by Chajm Guski

Es war in den Tagen des Antiochus, dem König der Griechen, eines großen und starken Königs, fest in seiner Herrschaft, und alle Könige hörten auf ihn. Er eroberte viele Länder und besiegte starke Könige, verwüstete ihre Paläste, verbrannte sie im Feuer und warf ihre Bewohner gefesselt in den Kerker. Seit den Tagen Alexanders stand kein solcher König auf, an der Küste des großen Meeres. Und er erbaute am Ufer des Meeres eine mächtige Stadt, als Königssitz, und nannte die Stadt Antiochia – nach seinem Namen. . . .

The Last Tisha b’Av: A Tale of New Temples by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman

Long ago there came a Ḥassid, visiting from Vitebsk to see his Rebbe. Struggling up hills, over cobblestones, through narrow alleyways, the Ḥassid came panting, shaking, to the door of a pale and quiet synagogue. So pale, so quiet was this shul that the pastel paintings on the wall and ceiling stood out as though they were in vivid primary colors. As the Ḥassid came into the shul, he saw his Rebbe high on a make-shift ladder, painting a picture on the ceiling above the bimah. . . .

A Prayer for Compassion by Trisha Arlin

We pray for those of us Who are so angry That we have lost compassion for the suffering Of anyone who is not a member of our group. And we pray for those of us Who cannot see the suffering Behind the loss of that compassion. We pray for the strength To resist the urge to inhumanity That we feel in times of fear and mourning. We pray for the courage To resist the calls to inhumanity That others may make upon us in times of crisis. . . .

תשעה באב | Eikha for the Earth: Sorrow, Hope, and Action from the Shalom Center

Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, has historically been a day to mourn the Destruction of the First and Second Temples, centers of Israelite practice before the rise of Rabbinic Judaism (First Temple 975 BCE – 586 BCE; Second Temple 515 BCE – 70 CE) and the exiles that followed those destructions. Over the course of Jewish history this day of mourning and fasting has also come to commemorate many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. This year we are beginning a new tradition. We are suggesting that in addition to, or instead of (depending on the norms of your community and personal practice) the traditional observance of Tisha b’Av, the time has come to use this powerful day to mourn the ongoing destruction of the “temple” that is our Earth, a tragedy for all peoples, creatures and living things, but one that is not complete and thus, with sufficient will and action, is in part, reversible. . . .

A Jewish Prayer for Nakba Day by Sarah M.

Our God, and God of our ancestors, who answered Abraham when his son was bound on the altar, who remembered Sarah’s prayers in her tent for a child, and who found Hagar in the wilderness on the road to Shur, and who heard the cries of her child in the wilderness of Beer Shava, may He remember our Palestinian brothers and sisters who were killed, who were expelled, who fled, who were not allowed to return home, and those who are still at risk of losing their homes. . . .

יוֺם פַּיִי | On the Rabbinical Approximation of Pi by Boaz Tsaban and David Gardner

There is a Rabbinical tradition that the value of pi is hidden within a ktiv-kri (reading-versus-writing disparity) in I Kings 7:23. According to Hebrew scriptural tradition, the word meaning ‘line’ is written as קוה, but read as קו. . . .

עשרה בטבת | The Tenth of Tevet on a Friday, Can one fast half a day? by Rabbi Ethan Tucker (Mechon Hadar, Center for Jewish Law and Values)

This Friday (13th December) is Asarah B’Tevet (10th of Tevet), one of the minor fast days in the Jewish calendar. Mechon Hadar’s Rabbi Ethan Tucker provides an overview of the various halakhic issues that are raised by a fasting on a Friday due to the upcoming Shabbat – how do we balance the tragedy of the fall of Jerusalem in 6th century BCE, which our fasting commemorates, with the joy of Shabbat? . . .

מגילת אנטיוכס | Megillat Antiokhus for Ḥanukkah in Aramaic, translated in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English

The Megillat Antiochus was composed in Palestinian Aramaic sometime between the 2nd and 5th century CE, likely in the 2nd Century when the memory of the Bar Kochba revolt still simmered.. The scroll appears in a number of variations. The Aramaic text below follows the critical edition prepared by Menaḥem Tzvi Kaddari, and preserves his verse numbering. The English translation by Rabbi Joseph Adler (1936) follows the Hebrew translation in the middle column, the source of which is a medieval manuscript reprinted by Tzvi Filipowsky in 1851. Adler and Kaddari’s verse ordering loosely follows one another indicating variations in manuscripts. Where Aramaic is missing from Kaddari’s text, the Aramaic version from Adler’s work is included in parentheses. Adler also included a Yiddish translation which we hope will be fully transcribed (along with vocalized Hebrew text, a Hungarian translation, and perhaps even a Marathi translation from South India) for Ḥanukah 5775 , G!d willing. . . .

Prayer for Thanksgivukah by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

May the next Thanksgivukkah be a time of health and abundance for all of you who will receive the world from our hands. May we together find away to make sure that there is health and wealth and beauty not just for our family, not just for the Jewish people and humanity, but for all living creatures who share this planet with us. May the One bless us with the power and wisdom to birth a society that shows love to the world around us, that lives with love towards all beings. . . .

תשעה באב | Prayer for Tisha b’Av by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

During the time before there was a State of Israel, those ideals in our hearts which we tried to practice and which we wanted others to practice, seemed not achievable where we were because, we felt we had no influence over our world where we were. And so, the longing for our homeland was tied into the longing for our dreams and our vision. Now that the state of Israel is with us, our dreams and our visions still remain distant from our lives and therefore when we say the Tisha B’av prayers we need to remind ourselves of the distance between that which we would have in this world and that which we do have. . . .

Birkat Hamazon for Tisha b’Av, Tu b’Av, and Shabbat Naḥamu by Gabriel Wasserman

Supplemental prayers for the Birkat Hamazon on Tisha b’Av, Tu b’Av, and Shabbat Naḥamu by Gabriel Wasserman . . .

על הניסים בימי הודיה לאומיים | Al Hanissim supplement for the Birkat Hamazon and Amidah on all Secular/National Days of Gratitude by Aharon Varady

Opportunities to express gratitude on secular, nationalist days of thanksgiving demand acknowledgement of an almost unfathomably deep history of trauma — not only the suffering and striving of my immigrant ancestors, but the sacrifice of all those who endured suffering dealt by their struggle to survive, and often failure to survive, the oppressions dealt by colonization, conquest, hegemony, natural disaster. Only the Earth (from which we, earthlings were born, Bnei Adam from Adamah) has witnessed the constancy of the violent deprivations we inflict upon each other. The privilege I’ve inherited from these sacrifices has come at a cost, and it must be honestly acknowledged, especially on secular/national days of thanksgiving, independence, and freedom. I insert this prayer after Al Hanissim in the Amidah and in the Birkat Hamazon on national days of independence and thanksgiving. . . .

יום העצמאות | Al HaNissim on the State of Israel’s Independence Day by Josh Weinberg

We THANK YOU for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds and saving acts, brought about by You, and for the wars which You waged for US in this time. On the 5th day of the month of Iyar 5708, at the moment of declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel, the People of Israel gained sovereignty on its land and control over its destiny. The miracle of the establishment of a Jewish State is the first flowering of our redemption. The State arrives through a strong historical and traditional connection as the Jews through each generation strived to return and stand firm on their ancient homeland. In the recent generations they have returned to their land en masse as pioneers, clandestine immigrants, and defenders, they made the deserts bloom, revived their ancient Hebrew language, built towns and cities, and established a growing community in control over its own culture and economy. Born is a nation that seeks peace, defends itself, and brings the blessing of progress to all of its citizens. This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it! As it is written: “For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24). And to your people Israel who you provided salvation and relief to this day, You helped us to overcome nations and marched us over peoples, and delivered our inheritance which is now the State of Israel. In its accordance this State will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions. “Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces” (Psalms 122:7). . . .

תפילה (ישראלית) לפני הכניסה לקלפי (למאמין וללא מאמין)‏ | Prayer before entering the voting booth in Israel (for believers and non-believers)

May it be the will [before the Lord our God and the God of our ancestors] that this ticket which I am placing in my ballot will join thousands of other tickets that will promise reasoned leadership that will strengthen democratic values, aspire towards peace with our neighbors, separate religion and state, be concerned with the weak and protect the laborers, fight corruption and exercise leadership through personal role modeling. May it be the will [before the Lord our God and the God of our ancestors] that the nation sitting in Zion will merit years of freedom, quiet, productivity, education and good health and that our children may never fear at all. . . .

Prayer for Entering the Knesset by Dr. Chaim Hames-Ezra (2013)

May it be Your will, Lord our God, God of our fathers and mothers, that I leave this house as I entered it – at peace with myself and with others. May my actions benefit all residents of the State of Israel. May I work to improve the society that sent me to this chamber and cause a just peace to dwell among us and with our neighbors. May I always remember that I am a messenger of the public and that I must take care to keep my integrity and innocence intact. May I, and we, succeed in all our endeavors. . . .

Knowing But Not Revealing: A Purim Tax Deduction Loophole

Because we cannot live on two planes, we are granted the opportunity to disguise our external features. We develop the capacity to know each others hearts and find even greater satisfaction in the exchange. Yet, too often, we act as if someone else — who looks remarkably like oneself — is going to provide the support for nonprofit organizations we deem are necessary for a decent life. We assume / hope / pray that someone “else” is doing our part. It’s their turn to make a critical contribution, even a small one, that gives relief, replaces a worn-out part, opens the door wide enough to make a difference. . . .

Prayer for Alexandru Ioan I Cuza, Domnitor of Romania by Rabbi Meir Leibush (1862)

The life of Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yeḥiel Michel (MALBIM, 1809-1879) as a wandering rabbi and brilliant intellect reflects the changing expectations of Jews and Jewish religious authorities during the period of emancipation in 19th century Eastern Europe. In his capacity as the chief rabbi of Bucharest, Romania, MALBIM composed a prayer for Prince Alexander Ioan I Cuza (1820-1873), Domnitor. The prince had united the Danube principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in 1862 to form the Kingdom of Romania. During his reign, he managed to bring about a series of important land reforms benefiting the peasantry of Romania, and he did try to improve the situation for Jews under his rule. The emancipation of the Jews of Romania, announced with the Proclamation of Islaz during the Wallachian Revolution of 1848, had never actually gone into effect. In 1865, the prince announced a project which would lead to the “gradual emancipation of the people of Mosaic faith” but this effort was never realized due to Alexandru Ioan’s forced abdication and replacement by a Prussian King in 1866. . . .

תפילה לבוחר טרם הבחירות | A Prayer for Voters Before the Elections by Rabbi Esteban Gottfried

רִבּוֹן כָּל הַמַעֳשִים, אַתָּה חוֹנֵן לְאָדָם דֲּעַת וּמְלַמֵּד לֶאֶנוֹש בִּינָה. חָנֵּנוּ מֵאִתְּךָ חָכְמָה, בִּינָה וְהַשְכֵּל בּעֶת מִילוּי זְכוּתֶנו וְחוֹבַתֵנוּ הַאֶזְרַחִית לִבְחוֹר אֶת מַנְהִיגֵינו.‏ . . .

חנוכה | Kavvanah for Ḥanukah Candle-Lighting by Bonna Devora Haberman

This is an intention that I composed for the conclusion of a performance piece, Inner Fire, created and performed by my Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism at Brandeis University in 2002. It is as relevant today as ever. Please use it for inspiration when you light Ḥanuka candles. . . .

חנוכה | A Blessing for Dreidel Spinning by Lieba B. Deutsch

Every Jewish holy day, even Shabbat and the highest ones, we call forth all the 22 Hebrew Letters to join us in celebration. For those of us who study Kabbalah from within the realm of the Alef-Bet, Ḥanukah is unique in that we are given a magical tool with which to activate these signs and wonders. . . .

חנוכה | Kavvanah for the Mitzvah of Kindling the Ḥanukah Lights by Rebbe Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov (trans. Morah Yehudis Fishman)

For the purpose of the unification of the Holy One and His divine (feminine) Presence, with trepidation and love and love and trepidation, to unify the name Yud-Kay with Vav-Kay (the four letters of the Tetragrammaton) with a complete unity in the name of all Israel, behold I intend in the lighting of the Hanukkah candle to fulfill the command of my Creator as our wise men of blessed memory have commanded us to repair her root in a supernal abode. . . .

על הניסים | Prayers for Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day in the United States

With this in mind, I want to invite all Jews in North America that celebrate the secular/national holiday of Thanksgiving to consider what might be a thoughtful prayer on this day. For the few hundred years that our people have been here, as refugees fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and as immigrants simply seeking better fortunes in a safer land, this Land has been a sanctuary. At the same time, even through the storied travails of our immediate ancestors, we cannot ignore the suffering endured by the indigenous peoples of this land who, first by devastating plague, and later through intentional acts of dispossession were murdered, massacred, forcibly displaced, and assimilated (forbidden to speak their language, separated from their families, made ignorant of their traditions) — experiences that must resonate with our own historical experience in the Diaspora. It seems immoral and obscene to me to be thankful without also being mindful of this complexity — how the fruits we enjoy in this Land have a rotten and dramatic history that we, now as residents of this continent, must at least consider in our prayers of thanksgiving. . . .

מי שברך | Prayer for the Welfare of Israel Defense Forces Soldiers by Rabbi Shlomo Goren (amended by Dr. Alex Sinclair)

May the Lord give our soldiers wisdom, understanding, and insight, so that they do not destroy the righteous with the wicked, as it is written in Your Torah: “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating them the same. Far be it from you – should the Judge of all the Earth not do justice?” (Genesis 18:25) . . .

Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Koaḥ

Psalm 67 is a priestly blessing for all the peoples of the earth to be sustained by the earth’s harvest (yevulah), and it is a petition that all humanity recognize the divine nature (Elohim) illuminating the world. Composed of seven verses, the psalm is often visually depicted as a seven branched menorah. There are 49 words in the entire psalm, and in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z”l there is one word for each day of the Sefirat haOmer. Similarly, the fifth verse has 49 letters and each letter can be used as a focal point for meditating on the meaning of the day in its week in the journey to Shavuot, the festival of weeks (the culmination of the barley harvest), and the festival of oaths (shevuot) in celebration of receiving the Torah. Many of the themes of Psalm 67 are repeated in the prayer Ana b’Koaḥ, which also has 49 words, and which are also used to focus on the meaning of each day on the cyclical and labyrinthine journey towards Shavuot. . . .

Prayer for the State of Israel by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Sovereign of the Universe, accept in lovingkindness and with favor our prayers for the State of Israel, her government and all who dwell within her boundries and under her authority. Reopen our eyes and our hearts to the wonder of Israel and strengthen our faith in Your power to work redemption in every human soul. Grant us also the fortitude to keep ever before us those ideals to which Israel dedicated herself in her Declaration of Independence, so that we may be true partners with the people of Israel in working toward her as yet not fully fulfilled vision. . . .

יום העצמאות | Yom ha’Atsmaut: Theological and Liturgical Reflections on Al Hanissim by Yehonatan Chipman

Every year on Yom ha-Atzmaut I feel a certain sense of frustration about its liturgy, and the failure of Religious Zionism to shape the holiday into one that would make a clear and definite religious statement. The “festive” prayer for Yom ha-Atzmaut is a hotchpotch of Yom Kippur, Kabbalat Shabbat, Shabbat Mevarkhim, and Pesaḥ. One gets a sense that there is an avoidance of hard issues. Even such a simple thing as saying Hallel with a blessing is not yet self-evident, but a subject of constant debate. Every year, there seem to be more leading rabbis, who adopt crypto-Ḥaredi stances, issuing pronunciamentos as to why one must not enter into the doubt of saying a brakha levatala, an unnecessary blessing, in this case. (As I was typing these words, I was interrupted by a phone call from a friend with this very question!) Bimhila mikvodam (no affront to the honor due them intended), but what on earth do they think the Talmud is talking about when it says that “On every occasion that Israel are in distress and then delivered, they are to recite the Hallel” (Pesaḥim 116a), if not the likes of Yom ha-Atzmaut? . . .

פורים | Learn the Kriyat Megillat Esther with Rabbi Hillel Yisraeli-Lavery

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. . . .

Prayer for the Government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by K.K. Beit Shalome (1789)

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. . . .

Memorial Prayer for Abraham Lincoln by Isaac Goldstein the Levite (1865)

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? . . .

חנוכה | Nomi and Aharon’s Ḥanukah Madrikh!

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. . . .

פורים | Seder Megillat Esther for Purim

The Open Siddur Project is pleased to offer the world the first freely licensed Seder Megillat Esther. We would like to thank our contributors: the Jewish Publication Society for sharing an authoritative digital edition of their 1917 English Translation of the TaNaKh (The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text), Christopher Kimball and the Westminster Leningrad Codex digitzation project for an authoritative digital text of the TaNaKh. We would also like to thank Rabbi Rallis Wiesenthal for his contribution of the Siddur Bnei Ashkenaz, Shmueli Gonzales for his transcriptions of siddurim witnessing the Nusach Ha-Ari, and Aharon Varady, the editor of opensiddur.org and founder of the Open Siddur Project. If you have any free licensed resources representing other nuschaot and minhagim, please share them. . . .

פורים | Ta’amei Hamiqra (cantillation) for Megillat Esther

For aspiring ba’al koreh (readers) of Megillat Esther studying its various styles of cantillation (Hebrew, ta’amei hamiqra or in Yiddish, trope), a fair number of recordings are popping up online, but only one so far is being shared with a free/libre, copyleft license thanks to Gabriel Seed, lead developer of zemirotdatabase.org. The audio file is free to redistribute and remix under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported license. We’re honored to share Gabriel’s recording of a zarqa table for Megillat Esther read in the Nusaḥ Ashkenaz style. Megillat Esther – Ta’amei Hamiqra: MP3 | OGG . . .

אַ פּאָלףּ קדיש | A Kaddish by Reb Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction, 1994)

Tired of people who can’t tell their kiddish (blessings for the Sabbath) from their kaddish (prayer for the dead)? Well, it sets Samuel L. Jackson off too! But he found a way of making a bracha (blessing) and mourning the dead at the same time. Now I can’t vouch for the origins of his nusaḥ (custom) but it sounds very effective! Most people haven’t noticed, the only real part from the Bible is that last section, the first part is actually his own spiel: . . .

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer for the Residents of El-Arakib by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

How is it that El-Arakib sits alone and desolate, like a widow a seventh time? “The Daughter of Zion has lost her glory.” (Lamentations 1:6) For, while we had dreamed that our state would “Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender,” (Israeli Declaration of Independence) our prayers have not yet been fulfilled. . . .

חנוכה | Is Sara Levi-Tanai’s Banu Ḥoshekh l’Garesh in the Public Domain?

Some might seem surprised that this work isn’t in the Public Domain simply by virtue of the song’s popularity. Translations of Banu Ḥoshekh L’garesh are not uncommon despite the apparent lack of translation rights provided to translators. This all underlines how copyright is regularly ignored in the living practice of creative cultures. And yet, copyright law and the protections it affords are ignored at the peril of a copyrighted work’s remixers, publishers, translators, and other creatives. Both the song and an anonymous English translation are here being provided as an example for this article on copyright under Fair Use. Each individual contribution to our collective intellectual commons may be small, but together, our contributions will make a tremendous resource for a renewed vibrant living and creative culture. . . .

חנוכה | Ḥanukah Sources in Rabbinic Midrash

Our Rabbis taught: When Adam HaRishon (primitive Adam) saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, ‘Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!’ So he began keeping an eight days’ fast. But as he observed the winter solstice and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, ‘This is the world’s course’, and he set forth to keep an eight days’ festivity. In the following year he appointed both as festivals. Now, he fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [unenlightened] appointed them for the sake of star worship. . . .

חנוכה | A Ḥanukah Madrikh by Chajm Guski

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. . . .

A Prayer for Voting by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

This prayer is broadly speaking a prayer that we learn to work together to create a better future, and it incorporates a pledge to do one thing for healing the world, for tikkun olam, that will make this future a reality. It’s not a prayer about winning or getting other people to see things our way, like some of the others I’ve seen. Whomever we support (I am supporting Obama), we need to pray for strength for the next president, and for the whole country, to face what will be challenging times. . . .


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