בסיעתא דשמיא
Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

From a family of musicians, Isaac Gantwerk Mayer believes that creative art is one of the most powerful ways to get in touch with the divine. He composes music and poetry in Hebrew and English. (He also translates and transcribes Hebrew and Aramaic texts, adding niqqud and t'amim as needed.) Isaac runs a Jewish music transcription service, which will transcribe and set any Jewish music in any language, recorded or written. Contact his service on Facebook or via his music blog.

https://isaacwritesaboutmusic.com

אֶפְתַּח פִּי לְךָ אָדוֹן | Eftaḥ Pi L’kha Adōn, a seliḥah for Kristallnacht by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ד במרחשון ה׳תשפ״ב (2021-10-19) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

There’s a lot of controversy over Yom haShoah as a date. One of the key issues is this: traditionally, the ways Jews mourn communal tragedies is through establishing a fast day. It’s forbidden to fast during the month of Nisan. It’s hard to pick any specific date to commemorate a tragedy as enormous as the Shoah, but one which seems appropriate to me would be 16 Marḥeshvan, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the November Pogrom. This piyyut is a seliḥah for Kristallnacht, to be recited on 16 Marḥeshvan (or 15 Marḥeshvan on years like 5782 where the sixteenth falls on a Thursday). . . .


ברכת המזון לסעודת סוף הצום לסיגד | Birkat haMazon for the break-fast meal of Sigd (29 Marḥeshvan)

Contributed on: ו׳ באלול ה׳תשפ״א (2021-08-14) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This is a poetic Birkat haMazon, similar to those found in the Cairo Geniza, intended for this specific break-fast meal. The editor has included the text in Hebrew, English, and an attempted Liturgical Ge’ez translation. . . .


סֶֽרַח בַּת־אָשֵׁר | Seraḥ bat Asher, a Havdalah Song by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ב בתמוז ה׳תשפ״א (2021-07-02) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

Some communities have a practice of singing a song about Miriam alongside the well-known Havdalah song about Elijah the Prophet. But Miriam isn’t really a parallel to Elijah — she’s a parallel to Moshe and Aaron. When we’re talking about distaff counterparts to Elijah the clearest example is Seraḥ bat Asher. Seraḥ, the daughter of Asher, is mentioned only a handful of times in the Tanakh, but is given great significance in the midrash. Like Elijah, she is said to have never died but entered Paradise alive, and comes around to the rabbis to give advice or teachings. This song, which includes several references to midrashim about Seraḥ, is meant to be sung to any traditional tune of “Eliyahu haNavi.” It is dedicated to Ḥazzan Joanna Selznick Dulkin (shlit”a), who introduced me to the legends of Seraḥ bat Asher. . . .


קדיש יתום בלי מנין או אם לבד (אשכנז)‏ | Abbreviated, Personal Mourner’s Ḳaddish for when Praying Alone or Without a Minyan (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ג באלול ה׳תשע״ט (2019-09-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This text takes the basic idea of the Baladi-rite ‘Brikh Shmeh d’Kudsha Brikh Hu’ and adapts it for the Askenazi nusach of the Kaddish. It can be used when praying alone wherever a minyan would say the entire Kaddish. It could also be recited by a community in unison out loud when it can’t make a minyan, to show that even if we don’t have a full minyan, we still welcome mourners as part of our community. . . .


ברכת המזון לסעודה מפסקת ערב תשעה בעב | Birkat haMazon for the Seudah Mafseqet (Pre-Fast Meal) of Tishah b’Av, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט׳ באב ה׳תש״פ (2020-07-29) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A Birkat haMazon with additions for the pre-Fast meal of Tisha b’Av . . .


כַּוָּנָה וּבְרָכָה עַל רְאִיַּת נְחִיל רֶמֶשׂ גָּדוֹל עַד־מְאוֹד | Kavvanah and Blessing for Observing a Massive Swarm of Creeping Things, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״א בסיון ה׳תשפ״א (2021-05-22) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

There are blessings for beautiful vistas, and there are blessings for powerful weather. But is there a blessing for giant swarms of bugs? Certainly! There just wasn’t a kavvanah for it… yet. Inspired by the appearance of Brood X in May 2021, this is a meditation and blessing for the unique experience of seeing an enormous number of non-dangerous insects. Cicadas are NOT a plague — they don’t eat crops or spread disease, but they do help revitalize the soil and keep forest ecosystems healthy. As a natural part of the universal order, we should work to see the divinity and goodness in them, even if we might normally think of them as gross. . . .


Piyyutim to Introduce the First Aliyot of Each Book in the Torah, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ב בתשרי ה׳תשע״ט (2018-09-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

These are piyyutim written in a traditional style, meant to introduce the opening of each book in the Torah. These piyyutim can be used at any time the opening line of the reading is said – on the Shabbat Minḥa/Monday/Thursday prior to the reading OR on the Shabbat morning of the reading proper. Because of this, the sheets arranged including the readings use two sizes – a larger size for the shorter first reading for weekdays, and a smaller size for the full first reading on Shabbatot. They can only be read when the first verse of the book is read. . . .


כּוֹס לְמִרְיָם | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Miriam’s Cup of Water

Contributed on: ו׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

Rabbi Yosi son of Rabbi Yehuda says: “Three good sustainers arose for Israel. These are they: Moses and Aaron and Miriam. And three good gifts were given because of them, and these are they: well, and cloud, and manna. The well was given in merit of Miriam… Miriam died and the well ceased, as it is written (Numbers 20:1-2) “And Miriam died there,” and it says right afterwards “and there was no water for the community.” . . .


קְלִפּוֹת לֶפֶת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Turnip peels, after the Holocaust remembrance of Pearl Benisch

Contributed on: ו׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

Pearl Benisch… remembers Passover in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in the spring of 1945, just days before her liberation. . . .


פִּלְחֵי תָפּוּ״ז | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Orange segments, after the teaching of Susanna Heschel

Contributed on: ו׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (suggesting that there’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to put bread on the seder plate would be to accept that Jewish lesbians and gay men violate Judaism like ḥamets violates Passover. So, at her next seder, she chose an orange as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. . . .


סִילְקָא דְּרָב הוּנָא | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Beets, after the rabbinic teaching of Rav Huna (ca. 3rd c.)

Contributed on: ו׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

The color of beets, which never leaves our hands, symbolizes the teachings of the sages, which are still passed down. And the redness symbolizes the blood of the covenant, still there after all these years. . . .


A Second Passover Seder Plate with Seven Additions, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשע״ט (2019-04-14) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A Passover seder supplement containing seven additional symbolic foods and their associated ritual presentations, along with their collective organization on a second seder plate. . . .


תְּפִלָּה לַעֲצֵי הַיַּעַר עַל ט״וּ בִּשְׁבָט | Prayer for the Trees of the Forest on Tu biShvat, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ו׳ בטבת ה׳תשע״ח (2017-12-24) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A Tu biShvat prayer for the trees of the land of Israel and the world over, that they not be victims of deforestation. . . .


מי שברך למיני פשעי שנאה | Mi sheBerakh for Hate Crimes and Bigotry, by Isaac Gantwerk-Mayer

Contributed on: כ׳ במרחשון ה׳תשע״ח (2017-11-09) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

From resurgent neo-fascist movements to religious extremist attacks, hate crimes are on the rise all over the world right now. At times like this many people live in fear – fear of being attacked or maligned, physical, mental or emotional. Hatred is not new to the Jewish people, but traditionally it was considered “just the way it is.” As Americans, we should believe better. The midrash (Devarim Rabbah 5:10) says that hateful speech kills three – the speaker, the listener, and the subject. This Mi Sheberakh was written as a prayer for all those of every people and nation that are affected by hatred and bigotry. . . .


תפילה פרטית לשם הצבעה | Private Prayer for Voting, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (2020)

Contributed on: ח׳ במרחשון ה׳תשפ״א (2020-10-25) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A private prayer for fulfilling your civic duty and voting, whether in a voting booth or by mail. The concluding partial berakhah (without its full preamble, so as to avoid a berakhah levatala) is traditionally stated upon seeing a king of a nation, so in a democratic regime it seems appropriate to adopt for the voters. . . .


מְגִלַּת לִינְקוֹן | Megillat Lincoln, a Purim Sheni scroll for the 13th of Tevet commemorating the revocation of Ulysses S. Grant’s General Order № 11 (1862, 2020)

Contributed on: א׳ בסיון ה׳תש״פ (2020-05-24) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A megillah for a Purim Sheni commemorating a day of salvation the Jewry of the United States during the Civil War. . . .


מְגִלַּת וָשִׁעְתּוֹן | Megillat Washington: A Scroll for Thanksgiving Day, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (1790, 2018)

Contributed on: ג׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״ט (2018-11-11) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

In many Jewish communities around the world, there have been traditional scrolls read for “local Purims,” celebrating redemptions for a specific community. Here in America, we don’t really have an equivalent to that. But we do have Thanksgiving, a day heavily inspired by Biblical traditions of celebration, and one long associated with all that is good about America. Some Jewish communities have a tradition on Thanksgiving of reading Washington’s letter to the Jews of Newport, where he vows to support freedom of religion, famously writing that the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance” – thus rephrasing words originally written in a prior letter by Moses Seixas (say-shas), the sexton of the Touro Synagogue in Newport. This text includes the original English of both Moses Seixas’ letter to Washington and Washington’s return, as well as a somewhat simplified version of the story of Washington’s visit to Newport. Inspired largely by the style of the Book of Esther, it could be read on Thanksgiving morning during the service, using Esther melodies (or going on detours as per personal choice). . . .


מי שברך לעגונות | Mi sheBerakh to Support Agunot and Call Get Refusers to Account, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״א באב ה׳תשע״ט (2019-08-22) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This prayer, following the structure of the Mi Sheberakh supplications during the Torah service, is meant to call get refusers to account, by name, and make a statement that their behavior is evil and will not be tolerated. . . .


רַחֲמָנָא | Raḥamana di N’shaya — Aramaic Seliḥoth Piyyut for Biblical Women, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״א באלול ה׳תש״פ (2020-08-30) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

The Raḥamana piyyut is a litany beloved in Sephardic and Mizraḥi communities, a standard part of their Seliḥoth services throughout the month of Elul and the days of repentance. Traditionally it cites a list of Biblical men (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Pinhas, David, and Solomon) and asks to be remembered for their merit and their covenants, for the sake of “Va-yaŋabor” — the first word of Exodus 34:6, the introduction to the verses of the Thirteen Attributes recited in Seliḥoth services. This text instead uses Biblical women (Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, Serach, Miriam, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, and Esther). . . .


קדוש לסעודה מפסקת לפני יום הכפורים | Ḳiddush for the Seudah Mafseket before Yom Kippur, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י׳ בתשרי ה׳תש״פ (2019-10-08) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A kiddush for the se’udah (feast) preceding Yom Kippur and its fast. . . .


ברכת המזון לסעודה מפסקת לפני יום הכפורים | Birkat haMazon for the Pre-Fast Meal for Yom Kippur, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״א באלול ה׳תש״פ (2020-09-10) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This acrostic poetic form of Birkat haMazon was written for the se’udah mafseqet (pre-fast meal) before Yom Kippur, in the manner of the poetic Birkat haMazon variants recorded in the Cairo Geniza. . . .


Alternative Haftarot for Those who Do Not Recite the Haftarot of Rebuke and Consolation

Contributed on: ח׳ בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-29) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer | Moshe Ben Maimon |

In all modern communities, the standard practice is that on the three Shabbatot before the Ninth of Av and the seven after it the standard haftarah is replaced. Before the Ninth of Av they are replaced with haftarot of rebuke, from Jeremiah and the opening of Isaiah, and after they are replaced with haftarot of consolation from the later parts of Isaiah. Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, though, preserves a very different custom, one where each one of those Torah portions has an associated haftarah, related not to the calendar but to the parashah itself. Here the editor has compiled a list of these haftarah readings, along with brief notes to explain their connection with the parashah. . . .


תְּפִילַת הוֹלְכִים לְאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה | Prayer for Those Leaving Home for University, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ז (2017-06-14) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A prayer for the safety and success of those leaving home to go off to college and university. When children go off to college, parents can feel worried about the future of their children. Empty-nest syndrome can set in and spiritual guidance is often needed. This prayer uses the idioms of Biblical and siddur language to create a text for parents who worry about their children’s future as they head off on their own. It could be said 49 days after Tekufat Tammuz in the diaspora (August 28 or 29 after a leap year – approximately the time when college terms begin in the US) or on the first Saturday after Shmini Atzeret ba’aretz (approximately when college terms begin in Israel) . . .


מִי שֶׁבֵּרָךְ לִמְקַבְּלֵי שֵׁם אֱמֶת אַחַר אִשּׁוּר מְגַדְּרִי | Mi sheBerakh for those receiving a true name after gender confirmation, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ג׳ באלול ה׳תשע״ט (2019-09-03) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A Mi sheBerakh prayer, in the manner of those used during the Torah service, to honor those receiving a true Hebrew name reflecting their gender after undergoing gender confirmation. . . .


מי שברך לאסונות טבע | Mi sheBerakh for Natural Disasters, by Isaac Gantwerk-Mayer

Contributed on: כ׳ במרחשון ה׳תשע״ח (2017-11-09) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A Mi Sheberakh prayer for those affected by natural disasters. This prayer uses many standard liturgical phrases in a new context to stress that God, while full of great power, is not a God of destruction but one of peace and life. Quoting the famous vision of Elijah at Ḥorev, this prayer is for those who seek comfort and tranquility from their God. . . .


סדר לאבד פסלי עבודה זרה | Service for Destroying Idolatrous Statues, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (2020)

Contributed on: כ״ו בסיון ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-17) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

The argument that “statues preserve our heritage” is not one the halakhah tolerates, especially when the statues are celebrating the perpetrators of horrible atrocities. Here’s a service for those interested in fulfilling the Biblical commandment of destroying idolatrous statues. #BLM . . .


תפילת נחם לשלם בירושלם | Tefilat Naḥem for the Peace of Jerusalem on Tishah b’Av, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט״ז בסיון ה׳תשע״ח (2018-05-29) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

On Tisha be’Av, Jewish communities all over the world add a paragraph called Tefilat Naḥem (the prayer of comfort) to the standard daily Amidah (either for the afternoon service or for all services) praying for a return to Jerusalem. The traditional text discusses Jerusalem being defiled, in the hands of the idol worshipers, putting our people to the sword. But post-1967, Jerusalem has been under Israeli control, and this text has, to many people, felt no longer appropriate in the face of a Jerusalem being rebuilt. Many have written their own versions of a new Tefilat Naḥem for a Jerusalem under Israeli control, but I have felt dissatisfied with a lot of these. Some treat Jerusalem as already fully redeemed, which any glance at the news tells you isn’t the case. Others treat the major step in redeeming Jerusalem as building the Temple, but this seems to me to be only one eschatological part of a larger hope for Jerusalem. Jews have often considered the peace of Jerusalem to be a microcosm of the peace of all the earth. Thus for the Shabbat and Yom Tov Hashkivenu we pray for God to “spread the shelter of peace over us, all Israel, and Jerusalem.” The name Jerusalem, ירושלים, has been analyzed as “they will see peace” יראו שלום, since the peace of Jerusalem means all will see peace. But it’s clear that the peace of Jerusalem is not final or eternal, and it remains a city on the edge of a knife. So my version of Tefilat Naḥem prays not for a return, nor for a Temple, but for the peace of Jerusalem. It can be used at the same time as the standard Tefilat Naḥem (as an extension of the Birkat Yerushalayim in the Shmoneh Esreh for Tisha b’Av) or on its own. Thus I used four asterisks (a tetrapuncta) instead of God’s name, for those who would prefer to avoid a b’rakhah levatalah. Those who would prefer to use this blessing in the Amidah itself could replace the tetrapuncta with the name itself. . . .


תפילת הדרך באניית הכוכבים | Prayer for Going on a Starship Voyage, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״א בניסן ה׳תשע״ח (2018-04-05) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A prayer, inspired by Tefilat haDerekh and other traditional liturgical texts, for a Jew who, at some future point, would be about to go forth on a starship. Doesn’t include a chatimah so as not to be a brakhah levatalah, in the case that starships are (chas v’shalom) never invented. . . .


תְּפִלָה לְחַג הָעֲבוֹדָה | Prayer for Labor Day, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ח׳ באלול ה׳תשע״ח (2018-08-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This is a petition for the worker in the style of “Av Haraḥamim” and similar texts, using Biblical and Mishnaic language and co-opting it into a new meaning. It could be read after the Torah service (like many other petitionary texts) or focused on in private. The Biblical relationship between God, humanity, and labor is fascinating. Often it is treated as a curse placed upon us, and just as often as the purpose of humanity. In Genesis 3:19 it is the curse placed upon a disobedient First Adam, but less than a chapter earlier in Genesis 2:15 it is the reason for First Adam’s creation in the first place! In the past century or so, traditional Judaism has somewhat tilted away from the ideas of worker’s rights so clearly stated in the Tanakh and in rabbinic texts. Partially this was to disassociate from the Bundists, partially out of fear of “looking too Communist” in a xenophobic American society, and partially because the Jewish working class is nowhere near as substantial a part of the community as it once was. If this text is meant to do anything, it’s to show that love of God and love of the worker aren’t opposed to each other – in fact, they go hand in hand! . . .


קריאות לימי זכרון השואה ורצח עם | Torah and Haftarah Readings for Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Days

Contributed on: כ״ח בניסן ה׳תש״פ (2020-04-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer | the Masoretic Text |

A Torah reading (divided into three aliyot) and a Haftarah reading to be recited for days commemorating genocides such as (but not limited to) the Holocaust. . . .


תפילה פרטי ליושבי הסגר | Private Prayer for Those Dwelling in Quarantine, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (2020)

Contributed on: כ״ז באדר ה׳תש״פ (2020-03-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A private prayer for those dwelling in quarantine and are unable to fulfill any mitzvot that require public action. Can be recited as part of the “Shomea Tefilah” section of the amidah, or independently. . . .


כְּרֵשׁוֹת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Leeks

Contributed on: ו׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

An old Persian tradition involves hitting each other with leeks during the recitation of Dayenu. Nowadays this is replaced with a gentle tap with a scallion for safety reasons. . . .


Schedule for the Reading of Ketuvim Aḥerim corresponding to the Weekly Torah Portion, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ו׳ בשבט ה׳תש״פ (2020-02-01) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A schedule for the reading of Proverbs, Job, Chronicles, Ezra/Neḥemiah, and Daniel, corresponding to each Torah portion of the annual reading cycle in the rabbinic Jewish calendar. . . .


תיקון לערב יום הכיפורים | Tiqun for Erev Yom Kippur, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט׳ בתשרי ה׳תש״פ (2019-10-07) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This Tikkun for Erev Yom Kippur is an assortment of texts, beginning with Torah and its targum, continuing with the Writings, then prophetic and psalmodic works, each accompanied by related Mishnaic passages from Tractate Yoma and surrounded by petitionary prayers in the manner of a traditional tikkun. It is meant to be studied in the nightly period after Kol Nidrei, either as a community or alone. . . .


מודים דרבנן בלי מנין או אם לבד (אשכנז)‏ | Modim d’Rabbanan Replacement for when Praying Alone or Without a Minyan (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ג באלול ה׳תשע״ט (2019-09-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This text uses the passage for the Askenazi nusach of the Modim d’Rabbanan and incorporates it into an extended version of the Modim, slightly editing it so as to fit more appropriately and so as not to repeat the word “modim” (which is forbidden on the grounds of appearing, ḥas v’shalom, to pray to multiple deities—see Berakhot 33b). It was first written for a separate project by the editor (https://opensiddur.org/prayers/lunisolar/musaf/dukhening-in-a-musaf-amidah-after-a-heykhe-qedushah-by-isaac-gantwerk-mayer/) but here it can be found alone. It can be silently recited when praying alone or after a heykhe kedusha, to replace the first paragraph of the Modim prayer. . . .


ברכו בלי מנין או אם לבד (אשכנז)‏ | Barkhu replacement for when Praying Alone or Without a Minyan (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ג באלול ה׳תשע״ט (2019-09-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This replacement barkhu arranges multiple Biblical verses in a catena. It is introduced and closed with verses from the book of Neḥemiah, verses often considered the source for the custom of calling to prayer. In between are poetic texts from the Song of Deborah and from Psalms that direct the term “Barkhu” — the plural imperative “Bless ye!” — at God. It could be recited alone in the location where the Barkhu would traditionally be recited, or said aloud in a community when no minyan is available. Alternatively, it could be used WITH a minyan as a text to introduce the Barkhu, a new step in of a line of poetic introductions to the service written for multiple generations. . . .


Schedule for the Reading of Psalms corresponding to the Weekly Torah Portion, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ג בניסן ה׳תשע״ח (2018-03-28) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This is a system that seeks to create a Haftarah-like system for the reading of Psalms, linking their meaning to the meaning of the reading or the Shabbat of that day. Like the Haftarah system, there are special psalms for the Shabbatot leading up to and following the Ninth of Av, as well as specific psalms for Rosh Chodesh and the special Shabbatot. Unlike the Haftarah system, if two portions are read together or a special Shabbat occurs on a day when another reading is done, both psalms are read (since psalms are generally shorter and easier to read than prophetic texts.) . . .


תהלים ח׳ | Psalms 8, a mizmor of David (translated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer)

Contributed on: י״ז באב ה׳תשפ״א (2021-07-26) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer | the Masoretic Text | David haMelekh ben Yishai (traditional attribution) |

The 8th psalm of the book of Psalms in Masoretic Hebrew accompanied by an English translation. . . .


ברכת המזון לראש השנה לבהמה | Birkat haMazon Supplement for Rosh haShanah la-Behemah, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ט באב ה׳תש״פ (2020-08-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This is a poetic text for Birkat haMazon, signed with an alphabetical acrostic and the name of the author, to be recited on the first of Elul. It celebrates the variety of God’s creation as exemplified by the natural diversity of species, as well as alluding to the livestock tithes traditionally assigned on the first of Elul. . . .


דָּג לְמִרְיָם | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Miriam’s Fish, recorded by Rav Sherira Gaon in 10th-century Iraq

Contributed on: ו׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A millennium-old tradition, recorded by Rav Sherira Gaon in 10th-century Iraq. He would always have three cooked foods on the seder plate. The egg, a product of the birds of the sky, a sign of renewal and rebirth, represented Moses, the law, the heavens, and the revelational aspects of faith. The shankbone, a product of the animals of the field, a commemoration of the original Pesaḥ sacrifice, represented Aaron, the priesthood, the earth, and the ritual aspects of faith. And the fish, representing the constant flowing nature of water, represented Miriam, prophecy, the waters, and the spiritual aspects of faith. . . .


מי ששכנה… היא תשכן עמנו | Mē She’shakhna… Hē Tishkon Imanu – a Seliḥot Plea for Biblical Women by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ב בתשרי ה׳תשע״ח (2017-10-02) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

There is a famous Seliḥot prayer where each of its lines has this structure: “May He who answered ___________, may he answer us.” The blank refers to assorted Biblical figures who faced great challenges, ranging from Avraham the Patriarch to Ezra the Scribe. The traditional list is also VERY male-focused, with the standard text only listing Esther from all the great Biblical women. This is a shame, and many have tried to remedy this. I have found myself under the opinion that all these remedies have a fault – they attempt to combine the original text with the new text. This means either the original text is shortened, or the full text is far too long. As well, the structure is very male-oriented as well, appealing to God’s male side and only using grammatically male language. . . .


Schedule for the Reading of Psalms corresponding to Festivals and Commemorative Days, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ד באב ה׳תשע״ח (2018-07-26) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This system attempts to remedy that, selecting psalms that reflects the meaning of the holiday in some way. It includes every single commonly celebrated holiday, including sub-ethnic celebrations like Mimouna or Sigd as well as more recent national holidays like Yom haAtzmaut. It also includes a system for dividing Psalm 119, a massive 176-verse acrostic hymn to Torah, throughout the weeks of the Omer season as a preparation for Sinai. . . .


ברכה לקהל | Blessing of the Congregation, translation by Rabbi David de Sola Pool

Contributed on: כ״ג במרחשון ה׳תש״פ (2019-11-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer | David de Sola Pool (translation) |

A “mi sheberakh” prayer on behalf of the persons attending the prayer and/or Torah reading service. . . .


מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה | Ma Nishtana, a Spanish-Portuguese Qina for Ngereb Tishnga beAḇ

Contributed on: ד׳ באב ה׳תשע״ט (2019-08-04) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer | Unknown Author(s) |

This qina is recited in the Spanish-Portuguese rite (as practiced in the Snoge in Amsterdam, the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, and Shearith Israel in New York City among many other communities) at the conclusion of the recitation of qinot on the evening of the Ninth of Aḅ. Its refrain, taken from the Four Questions of the Passover liturgy, is reframed* as a reflection of the suffering of such a day, contrasting the celebration of salvation on Passover with the fear and desolation of the fast day. . . .


A Cantillation System For Ezra/Neḥemiah, Chronicles, and Daniel, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ד׳ בניסן ה׳תשע״ח (2018-03-19) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

There are 24 books in the Tanakh. Of these, 21 (all but Psalms, Proverbs, and Job) share a grammatical system of cantillation marks, or te’amim. Of these 21, Ashkenazim have melodic traditions for reading eighteen of them. The Torah has its system, the prophets have the Haftarah system, the three festival scrolls have their shared system, and Esther and Lamentations have their own unique systems. But what of the three remaining books? . . .


An Ashkenazi-style Cantillation System for Psalms, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ב באלול ה׳תשע״ח (2018-08-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

An Ashkenazi-style cantillation system for the Book of Psalms. . . .


An Ashkenazi-style Cantillation System for Proverbs, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ב באלול ה׳תשע״ח (2018-08-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

An Ashkenazi-style cantillation system for the Book of Proverbs. . . .


An Ashkenazi-style Cantillation System for Job, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ב באלול ה׳תשע״ח (2018-08-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

An Ashkenazi-style cantillation system for the Book of Job. . . .


תפילת הודיה לגשם | Thanksgiving Prayer for Rainfall in Lands Where It is Needed, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ז באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ט (2019-02-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A prayer of thanksgiving for when it rains in a land needing rainfall. . . .


תפילת הודיה לשלג | Thanksgiving Prayer for Snowfall in Lands Where It is Needed, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ז באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ט (2019-02-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A prayer of thanksgiving for when it snows in a land needing snowfall (and ultimately, snowmelt). . . .


סֵדֶר לְיוֹם הַשׁוֹאָה | Seder for Yom haSho’ah, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״א בניסן ה׳תשע״ח (2018-04-05) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

The most traumatic event in recent Jewish history is the Holocaust. At this time, the survivors of the camps are aging, and in the lifespan of people alive today it is likely that the last survivor will die. We say we must never forget what happened during the Holocaust, but if we think of it as a tragedy that happened to our ancestors we will forget. But it has been 3000 years since the Exodus from Egypt, and the Haggadah keeps its history vivid and alive. We are taught that in each and every generation we are to think of ourselves as having been slaves in Egypt. May it be that just as we never forgot the wonders of the Exodus, so too we never forget the horrors of the Holocaust, and continue to strive that such horrors may never happen again until all live in freedom and peace. . . .


Dukhening in a Musaf Amidah after a Heykhe Qedushah: a version of the concluding three blessings for Kohanim, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ב׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ט (2019-05-06) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This text is a version of the concluding three blessings (Avodah, Hoda’ah, and Shalom) for kohanim to use during the silent Amidah of a festival Musaf where dukhening is, for one reason or another, impossible. . . .


הַגָּדָה שֶׁלַּפֶּסַח הַשֵּׁנִי | Haggadah for Pesaḥ Sheni on the Evening of the 14th of Iyar, compiled by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ח׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ט (2019-05-13) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A guiding text and haggadah for a Seder Pesaḥ Sheni. . . .


קריאות ליום הזכרון | Torah and Haftarah Readings for Days Memorializing Fallen Military Personnel, compiled by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״א באייר ה׳תשע״ט (2019-05-26) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer | the Masoretic Text |

This is a Torah reading (divided into three aliyot) and a Haftarah reading to be recited on Memorial Day or any local equivalent day to honor those who died for their nation. . . .


קָפֶה בֵּית מַכְּסְוֶיל | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Maxwell House coffee

Contributed on: ו׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

Why is this coffee different from all other coffees? Because Maxwell House coffee is a deeply spiritual representation of the Diaspora experience. . . .


קריאות ליום העצמאות האמריקאי | Torah and Haftarah Readings for United States Independence Day, compiled by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ט באייר ה׳תשע״ט (2019-06-03) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

The Fourth of July is a day on which Americans celebrate liberty, equality under heaven, and freedom from tyranny and foreign rule. Thus it is an appropriate day to read Torah. This is a Torah reading (divided into three aliyot) and a Haftarah reading to be recited on the Fourth of July. . . .


קריאות לימי הותיקים | Torah and Haftarah Readings for Days Recognizing Military Veterans, compiled by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״א בתמוז ה׳תשע״ט (2019-07-14) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This is a Torah reading (divided into three aliyot) and a Haftarah reading to be recited for such holidays. The aliyot are from Shoftim, describing the rules for just warfare and treatment of those in need. . . .


קריאות לימי העבודה | Torah and Haftarah Readings for Days Recognizing Organized Labor and Labor Rights, compiled by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״א בתמוז ה׳תשע״ט (2019-07-14) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This is a Torah reading (divided into three aliyot) and a Haftarah reading to be recited on a national labor holiday. The aliyot are from Vayakhel, describing the construction of the Tabernacle. . . .


יוֹם זֶה לְכׇל דוֹרוֹת | Yom Zeh l’Khol Dorot, a piyyut for Pesaḥ Sheni by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט״ו באייר ה׳תשע״ז (2017-05-10) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A piyyut for an under-recognized holiday, Pesaḥ Sheni, the festival of second chances (as described in Numbers 9:6-13 and Mishnah Pesaḥim 9:1-3. I attempted to write this in the manner of a traditional piyyut. The meter is equivalent to the Shabbat zamir “Ot Hi l’Olmei Ad.” The Hebrew spells out Yod – Tzadi – Ḥet – Kuf, because that’s my name. The translation is original, along with the notes. . . .


פַּרְשְׁיָתָא דְּפִתְחָא לְמִנְחָה | Passages for Opening Minḥah, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט״ז בשבט ה׳תשע״ט (2019-01-22) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

One of the great things about Pesukei and Kabbalat Shabbat is that it enhances our feeling of holiness, that what we’re about to do is outside the secular world we’ve just left. Minḥah is the shortest service, and usually gone through the fastest. But it is still a spot of holiness in our afternoons, and we should keep that in mind. I hope that this text can help us remember that we can always take a break from our day to access some afternoon holiness. . . .


מִי שֶׁעָנָה…הוּא יַעֲנֵנוּ | Mi she’Anah…Hu Ya’anenu :: A Star Trek Seliḥah, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט׳ באלול ה׳תשע״ח (2018-08-19) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

A derivation of the popular piyyut for the Yamim Noraim, “Mi She’anu” which references the archetypal characters of the Star Trek paracosm. . . .


סֵדֶר סִימָנִים לְרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה – שִׁכְתּוּב אַנְגְּלִי שֶׁשּׁוֹמֵר לָשׁוֹן־שֶׁנּוֹפֵל־עַל־לָשׁוֹן | Order of Simanim for Rosh haShanah — an English paraphrase that preserves wordplay, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״א באלול ה׳תש״פ (2020-09-10) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

Many communities have a custom of reciting “simanim” on the night of Rosh haShanah — invocations on a series of foods punning over their Hebrew or Aramaic names. This is an assortment of common simanim, along with English loose translations that preserve the punning aspects of the foods. . . .



בסיעתא דארעא