New prayer book for Reform Judaism

Laurie Goodstein reports on Reform Judaism's new prayer book. The article in The New York Times says that the nation’s largest Jewish movement, Reform Judaism, is preparing to adopt a new prayer book that was intended to offer something for everyone — traditionalists, progressives and everyone else — even those who do not believe in God.

"The changes reveal a movement that is growing in different directions simultaneously, absorbing non-Jewish spouses and Jews with little formal religious education while also trying to appeal to Jews seeking a return to tradition."

Traditional touches coexist with a text that sometimes departs from tradition by omitting or modifying some prayers and by using language that is gender-neutral. References to God as “He” have been removed, and whenever Jewish patriarchs are named — like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so are the matriarchs — like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. The prayer book took more than 20 years to develop and was tested in about 300 congregations. Its release has been delayed for a year because the initial printed product was shoddy, said people involved with the project. But the book is expected to be released in about a month — too late, however, for the High Holy Days, which begin Sept. 13.

“It reflects a recognition of diversity within our community,” said Rabbi Elyse D. Frishman, the editor of the prayer book. “We have interfaith families. We have so many visitors at b’nai mitzvah ceremonies that I could have a service on Shabbat morning where a majority of people there aren’t Jewish,” she said, referring to bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies on Saturday mornings.

Read it here

Comments (1)

I'm confused. The new prayer book came out at least a year or two ago -- I visited a Reform synagogue that had purchased and started using it a year ago. Perhaps this is just final approval for overall use? Or is it simply the NY Times's usual late-to-the-party M.O.? (If there's a trend the NY Times covers, you know it's been around for one to three years already - and I'm not just talking about their religion coverage.)

The new prayer book is beautiful, by the way. The inclusive language is poetic, there is respect for ancient tradition, the visual layout is beautiful -- I've been thinking of buying one ever since I went to Shabbat services with my friend and first saw the book a year ago.

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space