CCAR Newsletter May - June 2017 - 5
(Continued from page 3) VOICES OF TORAH
Isaiah rebukes his people in God's name with
the admonition, "I have raised and brought
up children, but they have sinned against Me"
(Isaiah 1:2), part of the haftarah for the Shabbat
preceding Tishah B'Av.
The parashah (Deuteronomy 1:12) and haftarah
(Isaiah 1:21), as well as Eichah (1:1), traditionally
read on Tishah B'Av, each contain the word
eichah, an expression of desperation and
However, the word can also be pointed as
ayekah-"Where are you?"-the question that
God addresses to Adam in the Garden of Eden
At times of disillusionment we need not only to
look at external circumstances but also to look
within ourselves and thereby seek to
move forward and maintain our optimism,
as does Isaiah in the concluding words of his
prophecy: Zion shall be redeemed with justice
and those who return to her with righteousness
(Continued from page 1)
FROM THE PLACEMENT DIRECTOR, Alan Henkin
system to the needs of the 21st-century Jewish
Like baseball, the Jewish experience has revolved
around getting home. For Avraham Avinu, Moshe
Rabbeinu, and the chalutzim, that home was the
Land of Israel. Another way to look at it is for
Jews, home is where you make seder. As my work
as your director of placement comes to an end,
I too am going home-to Los Angeles, where
I have spent seder for these past six years. My
sojourn in New York has been wondrous, but we
plan and God laughs.
When the Temple was destroyed, ascetics who
neither ate meat nor drank wine increased.
Rabbi Joshua debated with them, saying:
Perhaps you should refrain from bread, since the
grain offering is no longer offered. They replied:
We will stop eating bread. He said: The first
fruits are no longer offered. They replied: We will
stop eating fruit. He said: The water libation is
no longer offered. Will you cease from drinking
water? Rather, this is the way: Build a home
and plaster the walls, but leave a corner
unfinished. Hold a feast but leave out one
ingredient. A woman may wear her jewelry,
but leave aside one ornament. And those
who mourn for Jerusalem will merit to see
her joy renewed.
(BT Bava Batra 60b)
The Rabbis saved Judaism after the destruction.
Had Judaism depended upon the avlei Tzion
that would have been the end. Our Sages taught
us one of Judaism's most important lessons-
how to mourn in measure and celebrate
life while still remembering our sorrows, as
encapsulated in the fifth of the Sheva B'rachot:
even in our happiest hour, we take a moment to
mourn the incompletion of the world.
For too many Jews today, for whom Judaism is
not their way of celebrating life, Judaism becomes
only a sentimental occasion for mourning the
Holocaust and, when they attend synagogue,
to recite Kaddish for their entire list of deceased
ancestors. There is no future in such a Judaism.
We place all of our sorrows into one day of
the year-the ninth day of the month of Av.
The rest of the year we rejoice.
May God bless all the deeds of our hands.
Va-et'chanan / Shabbat
Nachamu (Joshua Minkin)
"Comfort, oh comfort My people," says your
God. (Isaiah 40:1)
Deutero-Isaiah speaks to the leaders of the
people of Israel after years of exile. The times for
chastisement are over. Now is the time for healing
and encouragement. He wants to rouse the
people, who are comfortably ensconced in Persia
and Babylonia, to shake off their torpor and look
to a future beyond exile.
The theology of a universal God who uses
other nations to punish Israel's sins preserved
the people in their ignominy. Isaiah, however,
believed in redemption. God is forgiving and
punishment is not eternal.
Comfort My people: let them know they are not
At times, anyone may need to hear this message.
It is all too easy to fall into despair after a tragedy
or traumatic experience-to ask, "What is the
point? There is nothing to be done." Like Israel in
exile we cry, My way is hidden from Adonai; my
cause is ignored by my God (Isaiah 40:27).
As rabbis, we are not immune to despair, yet we
are still called upon to comfort our people. We
seek to help them overcome despondency and
believe in the power of justice. Yet, we must also
learn from the prophets. Theirs was the voice.
They led by courageous example. But they knew
when to step aside. Their success, and ours, is
when our people themselves commit to the work
and take the lead. When the work is intimidating
and exhausting, we must remind all, [God] gives
strength to the weary, fresh vigor to the spent
A NEW ISRAELI SIDDUR IN THE MAKING
Alona Lisitsa and Dalia Marx
Jakob Petuchowski, the great liturgy scholar, said
that the prayer book is the diary of the Jewish
people. We are so proud and humble to share with
you that we are currently working on what we hope
to become a new chapter of this diary, that is-the
new Israeli Reform siddur.
The first Israeli siddur, HaAvodah ShebaLev, was
published by MaRaM and the IMPJ in 1982. It
managed to combine our ancient traditions with
our modern liberal sensitivities and sounded
a genuine Israeli-Jewish progressive voice.
HaAvodah ShebaLev became a great success in
our communities and abroad.
Now, 35 years after its publication we felt the need
to create a new prayer book. During these years,
both Israeli society and the Reform Movement
have gone through great changes that require our
We are committed to create liturgy that would
serve our current congregations as well as new
ones, to make the liturgy accessible to experienced
worshippers as well newcomers.
Our aim is to follow the call expressed by Rabbi
Peter Knobel, the former chair of the CCAR Liturgy
Committee, who said in one of his lectures that the
Reform Movement must move simultaneously in two
opposite directions-toward tradition and away from
it. We reincorporated liturgical passages that were
omitted from previous Reform prayer books, such as
the Daily Psalm, Tachanun, and Kiddush L'vanah,
and at the same time added new liturgies that
would express our commitment to diversity, gender
inclusivity, and more.
Two topics that reappear frequently in the liturgy attract
most-heated debates: the "God language" and various
expressions of Zionism. It is well known that Hebrew
does not yield easily to gender-neutral formulations;
therefore any address to the Divine would be either in
feminine or in masculine form. The tension between the
attachment to the old traditional forms and the desire
to create awareness to the fact that language creates
reality and educate us through its images demands
a slow educational process, variety of options, and
mutual respect. This is all still a work in progress; we
continue our discussing and experimenting.
We are committed to enhance a meaningful and multifaceted process in the Israeli movement regarding the
siddur, which would involve as many voices as possible.
We, the editors, work with an editing committee; we
also lead discussions on specific issues relating to
the siddur in the MaRaM bi-monthly meetings. Alona
makes special efforts to visit every congregation and
to learn from its leaders and members about the needs
and desires regarding the new liturgy.
We are looking forward to sharing the new baby
with all of you, hopefully, next year!
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter May - June 2017
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CCAR Newsletter May - June 2017 - 2
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