Thursday, March 22, 2012

Siddur Ve’ani Tefillati

Its easy to dislike Siddur Ve’ani Tefillati because of its rather, shall we say, unique design. Although I admit that some parts are really hard to read, I actually like it. I think its elegant, and love having margins to write in. 
I wrote this detailed description what of its special content when my congregations was considering whether or not to adopt it (we did):   
Siddur Ve’ani Tefillati was first published by Masorti Movement in Israel in 1998; the revised version was published in 2009 in cooperation with Yedioth Ahronoth Books. It is different from both Orthodox prayer book such as Rinat Yisrael, which was previously used by Hod veHadar, and US Conservative prayer books (for example, Silverman and Sim Shalom [complete]).
Unlike Orthodox prayer books but like US Conservative prayer books, Ve’Ani Tefillati phrases the morning blessings (V 20, SS 10-11) in positive language. For example, instead of “who has not made me a slave,” Conservative prayer books praise God “who made me free.” However, Ve’Ani Tefillati is different from its US counterparts in making the two blessings “who created me in His image” and “who created me free” optional, the idea being that both of these are included in “who has made me a Jew.” The revised Ve’Ani Tefillati is, to the best of my knowledge, unique in including the blessing “who has made me according to His will” for both men and women.
Another shared characteristic of all Conservative prayer books is phrasing the musaf prayer in the past tense, acknowledging that our ancestors offered sacrifices to God in the Temple but not praying for restoration of the sacrificial service in the future. Like Sim Shalom (but not Silverman), Ve’Ani Tefillati also includes the option of adding matriarchs to the amida and other prayers where the patriarchs are mentioned.
Modifications in Ve’Ani Tefillati to make the service more appropriate for a modern Israeli context include translations of all Aramaic texts into Hebrew, prayers for Memorial Day, Israel Independence Day and Jerusalem Day, as well as additional prayers to be said in times of drought and other difficulties (V 47, 265-284). The prayer, “bring us safely from the ends of the earth and lead us in dignity to our holy land” (SS 347) is replaced with “bring us blessing and peace from the four corners of the earth and help us walk upright in our land (V118). The same wording appears in Rinat Yisrael Eidot Hamizrach but not in the other versions. Furthermore, the special prayer for Tisha B’av (V 46) is changed so it no longer refers to Jerusalem standing in ruins. A different change in the same spirit appears in Sim Shalom (SS 176). The text in Ve’Ani Tefillati was (if I remember correctly) originally written for Kibbutz Hadati but has not found its way into standard Israeli Orthodox use.
One characteristic of Ve’Ani Tefillati that is more similar to Reconstructionist liturgy than other Conservative prayer books is toning down texts that gloat over our enemy’s defeat or denigrate non-Jews. For example, in the prayer describing the Exodus from Egypt the words, “and water covered their enemies, not one of them survived” (V 119) is printed in gray as an optional text.
Ve’Ani Tefillati includes Mi sheberach prayers for a wider range of lifecycle events including the adoption of the child and becoming grandparents, which are not included in the traditional liturgy.
At the end of each amida, Ve’Ani Tefillati Ve’Ani adds a modern Israeli poem on an appropriate theme. For example, the weekday afternoon prayer recited in the midst of the day’s activities includes a prayer/poem by Admiel Kosman, which IMHO really hits the spot, but I don't want to put  the translation  of a copyrighted poem online without permission. However, its included in this book review. Search for "Wanted: a quiet place on which to rest the soul" and you'll find it. 

Monday, March 19, 2012


I am experimenting with using this blog as a way to share source sheets from the classes on Jewish liturgy I've been teaching at Kehillat Hod veHadar in Kfar Saba, as well as thoughts on the weekly Torah reading,  

Birkhat Avot (English)