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 . . .
The style by which Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l translated Jewish liturgy in English was neither literal nor idiomatic, but highly interpretive and interspersed with his own ḥiddushim (innovations). Showing Reb Zalman’s translation side-by-side with the Jewish liturgy helps to illuminate his understanding of the liturgy — it’s deeper meaning as well as how it might be communicated to a contemporary audience. In the version I have prepared below, I have set the interpretive translation of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l side-by-side with the liturgical Hebrew that may have inspired it. In several places, Reb Zalman’s formulation departs from the traditional Ashkenazi nusaḥ. Where there is no Hebrew, we can more easily observe where Reb Zalman has expanded upon the blessing. Still, my work was not exhaustive and I appreciate any corrections to the nusaḥ (liturgical custom) of the Hebrew that may have inspired Reb Zalman’s interpretation in English. . . .
For those of us who speak a religious language, we can understand our journey of building shame resilience as one of the many ways we can uplift, exalt, praise, and honor not just our own lives but the Life of life itself. Whenever we feel unworthy of love and belonging, we can remember that the very self which we are struggling to believe is lovable is none other a manifestation of God’s own Self. Our belief that we are worthy to live and belong is one way we can practice our trust in God. And if the God language doesn’t do it for us, we can get in touch with our own wonder at being alive, call it whatever name or conjure whatever image works for us, and remember that our journey to live a wholehearted life honors that wonder. Ultimately we can affirm that any step toward a wholehearted life lifts up holiness in this world. . . .
In these still, quiet moments I am not asleep, and not yet awake. In the threshold of day and night, with the mixture of darkness and light, my body is once again coming to life. I am reborn, each day, from the womb of your compassion. May all of my actions be worthy of the faith you’ve placed in me. With words of thanks I’ll greet the dawn. . . .
This is Effron Esseiva’s morning Amidah (standing prayer) for weekdays. Effron writes, “It’s called Shmonei Esrei (18) because it used to have eighteen brakhot (blessings). However, it has an additional brakha to bring it to nineteen. This is my interpretation of the Teissa Esrei (19) with abridged kavvanot (intentions).” . . .
If you are not used to reading Hebrew with comprehension and with the ability to dilate the Hebrew from the literal meaning, or if you cannot read Hebrew and need a resource for daily davvenen, I offer you this set of texts, which I, too, use frequently for myself. I translated the Psalms and the liturgy in the way in which I experience them in my feeling consciousness. This does not offer the ‘pshat’, the literal meaning of the words, but the devotional interpretation that can make it a prayer of the heart. . . .