הַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ | Shield the Children: A Prayer for Refugees, a paraliturgical translation of Hashkivenu by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman

This prayer is a line by line interpretative translation of a traditional Ashkenazi variation of the Hashkiveinu prayer recited for Ma’ariv Leil Shabbat. . . .

תפילת המורה לפני פתיחת שנת הלימודים | Oración de los maestros antes del inicio del año escolar | Prayer of the teacher before commencement of the school year (Masorti Movement in Israel)

A prayer for a teacher to say or adapt as needed at the beginning of their school year. . . .

מי שברך לילדים והוריהם בשלהי שנה ובפתיחה | Mi sheBeraj para los niños y sus padres en el inicio de un nuevo año escolar | Mi sheBerakh for Children and their Parents at the Commencement of the School Year, by Rabbi Hagit Sabag Yisrael (Masorti Movement in Israel)

A “mi sheberakh” blessing for children and the parents of children returning to school at the beginning of the new school year. . . .

Nurse’s Commencement, a prayer by Rabbi Avraham Samuel Soltes (1951)

A prayer for a Nurse’s Commencement ceremony at Beth Israel Hospital on 19 September 1951. . . .

Dedication of Medical Research Clinic, a prayer by Rabbi Avraham Samuel Soltes (ca. 1950s)

“Dedication of Medical Research Clinic” was first published in Rabbi Avraham Soltes’ collection of prayers, תפלה Invocation: Sheaf of Prayers (Bloch 1959). . . .

תפילה לפני הגניזה | Prayer for the Interment of Sacred Writing in a Genizah, by Morah Yehudis Fishman

My bones whisper that your pages and your inks will return to the trees and the plants from where they once came. They say that someday they will even come back to life with words never yet heard. . . .

תהלים קכו | Shir Hama’alot :: Psalms 126, a poetic translation by Shim’on Menachem

This Psalm is straightforwardly post-exilic (for which see Sefer haWiki) but switches in its narrative perspective between before and after the return from Babylon, between gratitude and longing for return, helped by the profoundly non-linear mechanics of verbal tense and aspect in biblical Hebrew. The Psalmist chooses words associated with joy (s’ḥoq, rinah) that are tinged with other, more complicated emotions. Here’s what came out. . . .

תהלים כג | Psalms 23, translation by Shim’on Menachem, melody by Shir Yaakov

Listen to a recording of Psalm 23 chanted to an Indian-inspired melody. . . .

סתיו הנחל יסודי | Fall Creek Elementary: a Kavvanah for Teaching Children, by Eli Steier

I wrote this kavvanah a few years ago. At that time I lived in Ithaca, NY. I was a substitute teacher in the Ithaca Central School District. There was a community event at Fall Creek Elementary school, and the way families, faculty, students, and people from the area came together inspired the poem. . . .

סליחות | Sliḥot Prayers to the Inner Child within us by Miriam Rubin

For all the times that I’ve judged you, and you shut down.
For the times when I’ve cast eyes of displeasure on your creative and luminous works,
For the times when I secretly whisper nasty things about you, that I would never say out loud,
For the times when I’ve asphyxiated you, and you felt cut off from your sacred life force… . . .

The Mapmaker

Cold facts.
Colder realities.
The preacher who lost his way
The librarian who empties the shelves
The cook without a spoon
The child masking as a king
The king masking as a child.
The mapmaker studies them all
Furrowing his brow tightly
Crafting lines delicately.
Charges
Nothing
And
Changes
Everything . . .

תפילת הזכרת הורים כשאין מניין לאמירת קדיש | “Gebet Statt Kaddisch” Memorial Prayer For When There is No Minyan (trans. Jonah Rank)

Please Lord, Sovereign of Compassion, God, Arbiter of the spirits of all flesh, Parent of Orphans and Judge of widows: God, from the source of Your holiness! May my prayer and the Torah of life that I have learned come before you on account of the soul . . .

ברכת המזון לשבת א׳ דנחמתא (נחמו)‏ | Birkat Hamazon additions for Shabbat Naḥamu, by Gabriel Wasserman

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

Ritual for Judging Bad Dreams for Good

If one has a dream which makes him sad he should go and have it interpreted in the presence of three. He should have it interpreted! Has not Rav Ḥisda said: A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read? — Say rather then, he should have a good turn given to it in the presence of three. . . .

מי שברך לתלמידים היוצאים לחופשת הקיץ | A Mi sheBerakh prayer for students leaving school for their summer break, by Rabbi Esteban Gottfried

A mi sheberakh prayer by Rabbi Esteban Gottfried for the parents of students leaving school for their summer break. . . .

תפילה לפני קידושין | Prayer before Kiddushin for Couples by Sarah Groner

This prayer is based on the personal prayer said on holidays before Torah reading. The grammar has been adapted as plural rather than singular, so that the couple says the prayer together before their ritual of Kiddushin (betrothal). . . .

קדיש יתום | Mourner’s Kaddish, an interpretive translation by Alan Wagman

This is an English language interpretation of Kaddish, intended to capture the spirit of translations/interpretations that I have seen in various sources and also to capture the sound and rhythm of the Aramaic text, including syllables which, when read simultaneously with the Aramaic, rhyme with the Aramaic. . . .

פיוט למוזיקאי קודם שיופיע | A Performing Musician’s Piyut by Alan Jay Sufrin

This piyut (liturgical poem) arose after a very meaningful performance of mine in the summer of 2000. It was such a powerful experience that I was moved to say a prayer of thanks to G-d for the opportunity to perform my songs for audiences – but found no such prayer in existence. So I wrote this one. It took about a year to complete and I’ve been saying it backstage right before my performances, and sometimes before recording sessions, since then. . . .

A Prayer for Health in Work, by Rabbi Menachem Creditor

A holistic prayer for health in work. . . .

A Prayer for Travel, by Rabbi Menachem Creditor

A traveler’s prayer in English, adapted from the traditional formula vt Rabbi Menachem Creditor. . . .

After Shaḥarit: Abiding Advice for Daily Living, by Eliyahu Carmi (1767)

In Avignon, France, in 1767, Eliyahu Karmi (Elijah Crémieux) compiled a siddur preserving the nusaḥ of the Comtat Venaissin titled the סדר התמיד (Seder HaTamid). Just after the section for תפלת שחרית (the morning prayers), Karmi provides the following advice for how to organize one’s workday: . . .

על חטא | For the Sin of Torture: A Communal Confession by Rabbi Ed Feld

For the sin which we have committed before You through diminishing the image of God. . . .

התרת נדרים | Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur. . . .

ברית שמות | Baby Naming Covenant by Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman and Benjamin Kamm

In honor of the birth of their son born 23 Shvat 5772 ~ 15 February 2012, Rabbi Emma Kippley-Ogman and Benjamin Kamm share their Brit Shmot (Naming Covenant). The ceremony took place February 23rd, 2012 (Rosh Ḥodesh Adar ~ 30 Shvat 5772) at Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline, Massachusetts. . . .

שבע ברכות | The Seven Blessings over a Wedding (interpretive translation by Aharon Varady)

A translation of the Seven Blessings shared just in time for Shavuot, and in honor of several of my friend’s weddings. . . .

תשעה באב | Prayer for Tisha b’Av by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l (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. . . .

רפא אותי | Heal Me by Trisha Arlin

I have been asked to write a healing prayer So I tried But I can’t do it I don’t have the soothing words I’m in pain Right now And it’s been going on for a while And it looks like it’s going to last longer than it takes to write this prayer

So instead I offer to you A pain prayer . . .

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? . . .

In Search of Seraḥ: A Prayer to Seraḥ by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

[In Parshat Vayigash] we read of the members of Jacob’s family who went down to Egypt. There were 53 grandsons listed, but only a single granddaughter – Seraḥ, the daughter of Asher. The commentators wonder, what was so exceptional about this girl that her name was recorded? The Midrash spills forth with stories portraying an image of a unique and endearing Biblical heroine. Seraḥ stands as a trusted, beloved sage of the people. She possessed an uncommon gift of healing through poetry and music. Somewhat as Orpheus is to Greek myth, so is Seraḥ to the Biblical myth – the archetypal poet and bard. . . .

על חטא | For the Sin of Destroying God’s Creation by Rabbi Danny Nevins, adapted by Rabbi David Seidenberg (2007)

Eternal God, You created earth and heavens with mercy, and blew the breath of life into animals and human beings. We were created amidst a world of wholeness, a world called “very good,” pure and beautiful, but now your many works are being erased by us from the book of life. . . .

Kiss of death: a prayer upon the death of a parent by Andrew Meit

By Andrew Meit, written upon the death of his mother, Sonie Meit, the 28th of Sivan 5771 –כ״ח בְּסִיוָן תשע״א. . . .

A D’var Tefillah on Zombies, Elul, and Psalms 27 by Rabbi Jessica Minnen

As the month of Elul wanes, we are preparing. We prepare for the new moon, we prepare for Rosh Hashanah, and we prepare for the zombie invasion. I have it on good authority, as do you, that the onslaught is imminent. The alarm blares every morning — a shofar blast and a warning… . . .

A Ten-Step, Four-Worlds, One-Earth Tashlikh, by Avi Dolgin

Avi Dolgin shares his mindful practice for maintaining “tashlikh consciousness” in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. . . .

Prayer in a Time of Serious Illness by Rabbi Gilah Langner

Traditional Judaism offers a confessional prayer, or vidui, to be recited during a time of serious illness or near death. If the patient is unable to recite the prayer, others may do so on his or her behalf. This modern adaptation [of vidui] places less emphasis on atonement for sins, and more on the bonds connecting the patient to his or her loved ones. It can be recited by a friend, family member, or chaplain on behalf of a person who is very ill, especially when life and death are hanging in the balance. . . .

תפילה לשוב לעבודה | A Prayer for – finally – getting back to WORK by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

Chaya Kaplan-Lester’s “Prayer for – Finally – Getting Back to WORK” was first published on her Facebook page, here. The Hebrew word Todah תודה, means grateful. The English word ‘ta-da!’ is an onomatopoetic form of a horn (Cf. 1913 Sphinx July 98/1): “Coming front in utter disgust, he [sc. a conjuror] tells them [sc. the orchestra] that that won’t do, that he wants something like ‘tadaa!’ from all of them. They seem to understand, so he goes off again. On his reappearance, however, he is met with a loud tumult, as all the orchestra shout out in unison the word ‘tadaa!’” (Oxford English Dictionary). . . .

How to craft a small siddur or bentsher by Aharon Varady

Beginning late last year, I began a project to translate the Birkat Hamazon using Rabbi Simeon Singer’s English translation and the Nusaḥ ha-Ari as the basis for publishing birkonim (or in Yiddish, benchers). The original work was sponsored by the Teva Learning Center and its executive director, Nili Simhai, to be used in birkhonim specifically designed for use during weekdays during Teva’s Fall season. . . .

אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים | El Malé Raḥamim (Prayer for the Departed), translated and sung by Effron Esseiva

Almost two years ago my best friend passed away and I had the honour of chanting this malé raḥamim for him. In mid-May this year another friend approached me and said he really liked the way I did it at the time and could I record it for him because he was going to do it too for an unrelated unveiling. So, I recorded it on May 18, 2011. I didn’t compose it. It’s a traditional tune, but it’s my voice and I hope someone else can perhaps learn it with this material. The more resource there are out there through means such as Open Siddur the better we can learn and share. . . .

קדיש יתום בזמן מלחמה | Mourner’s Kaddish in Times of War and Violence, by Arthur Waskow

Jews use the Kaddish to mourn the dead, though it has in it only one word — “nechamata,” consolations – which hints at mourning. And this word itself is used in a puzzling way, once we look at it with care. As we will see below, it may be especially appropriate in time of war. The interpretive English translation below may also be appropriate for prayers of mourning and hope in wartime by other spiritual and religious communities. In this version, changes in the traditional last line of the Hebrew text specifically include not only peace for the people Israel (as in the traditional version) but also for the children of Abraham and Hagar through Ishmael (Arabs and Muslims) and for all the life-forms who dwell upon this planet. . . .

תפילת דרך משולשת | A Kavvanah for Crossroads: Triple Prayer for the Road, by Yakov Green

Yakov Green shares a short kavvanah (intention, meditation) which he wrote in Hebrew one morning at Beit Midrash Elul in Jerusalem. He later translated it into English. תפילת דרך משולשת | Triple Prayer for the Road . . .

תפילה של עובד קמעונאי | Prayer of a Retail Worker

May it be Your will, O Lord my God and God of my ancestors, to deliver me this day, and every day, from cranky customers and from cowardly managers; and if I must deal with them, grant me the patience and the wits to make things work. Grant me also an easy temper with my daughter, and let me not lose sight of her preciousness for one instant. And let me devote myself to my duties to my (wife/husband, and always keep her happiness in mind, and show her often that I love her. For all this, I ask You to help me, because I cannot do it alone. . . .

הַתִּקּוּן הַכְּלָלִי שֶׁל רֶבִּי נַחְמָן | The Tiqqun haKlali (General Remedy) of Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav

Before our hands can fix, we need to care. Before we can care, we need our eyes open. But how can we remind ourselves to see, and sustain our sensitivity and capability for compassion? We can shy from the pain that comes with empathy, and we can shy from the pain that comes with taking responsibility for the suffering we cause. But there are consequences to shying away, to disaffection and callous disassociation. If there is any hope, it is as Rebbe Naḥman explained so succinctly: “If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix.” In 1806, Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav taught that the recitation of ten psalms could act as a powerful Tikkun (remedy) in a process of t’shuva leading to an awareness of the divine presence that permeates and enlivens this world but is alas, hidden though an accretion of transgressive thoughts and actions. Five years later, Rebbe Naḥman revealed the specific ten psalms of this Tikkun to two of his closest disciples, Rabbi Aharon of Bratslav and Rabbi Naftali of Nemirov. . . .

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: . . .

הַמַּפִּיל | A Parent’s Prayer for the Safe Sleep of their Newborn Child by Aurora Mendelsohn

This is a prayer for parents to say for safe sleep for their newborn children. It is based almost entirely on the longer form of the traditional prayers before sleep. Because of gender there are two forms, for a boy and for a girl. I wrote this as part of my daughter’s naming ceremony in January 2001. I used it again in 2006 when my second daughter was born. . . .

שמחת בת | Simḥat Bat, by Dr. Devora Steinmetz and Rabbi David Silber (1987)

We name our daughters on their fifteenth day of life. This is based on Vayiqra 12:1-5, which describes the length of a woman’s period of impurity after childbirth. If she gives birth to a son, she is impure for seven days; if she gives birth to a daughter, she is impure for fourteen days. The passage seems to connect the baby boy’s circumcision on the eighth day to the conclusion of the mother’s seven day period of impurity. (Similarly, Vayiqra 22:27 says that a newborn animal must remain with its mother for seven days, and on the eighth day and onward it is acceptable as a sacrificial offering.) It seems, then, that for the first seven days of a little boy’s life, and the first fourteen days of a little girl’s life, the child and mother are still closely linked, and both remain separate from the larger family and community. Then, on the eighth day of her son’s life, and on the fifteenth day of her daughter’s life, the mother begins to rejoin her family and community, and the child too becomes incorporated as a member of the family and community. That is why a baby boy’s father becomes obligated to circumcise his son only on the eighth day, and why the baby boy first receives his name at his brit milah; it is then that the baby boy becomes a member of the community of Israel. On our daughter’s fifteenth day, we come together as a family and as a community to welcome this new member and to give her a name. . . .

שמחת בת | Simḥat Bat of Amalya Shaḥar Exler-Kaunfer, by Rabbi Elie Kaunfer and Lisa Exler

In place of the blood of the slaughtered bulls from the covenantal ceremony in Exodus, we looked for another substance to effect the covenant ceremony. Amalya was born right after Shavuot, on which we have a tradition to eat dairy. In fact, milk itself is associated with the acceptance of Torah, as described in the following Midrash which quotes a verse from Song of Songs (4:11): “Sweetness drops from your lips, O bride; honey and milk are under your tongue and the scent of your robes is like the scent of Lebanon.” . . .


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