By Frank Kurtz
Why are these High Holy Days different from all others (that came before)?
This year marks the introduction to B’nai Emunah of the new Mahzor (High Holy Day prayerbook) “Lev Shalem” (complete heart), which was first introduced to Conservative synagogues last year. Congregants will notice that the traditional Hebrew liturgy has been preserved, but otherwise the text has an entirely different “look and feel”. This will be of particular benefit to anyone interested in English translations and interpretations of the Hebrew and additional supplemental readings that give greater depth and insight into the Jewish traditions of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. For the congregant who doesn’t know Hebrew, the English translations are close to the meaning of the original and the transliterations are plentiful. For the seeker who comes to services looking for meaning and direction, the mahzor’s rich assortment of readings includes classic piyyutim that appear in Conservative publications for the first time: Hasidic stories and reflections; and quotes from Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Buber, contemporary Israeli and American poets, and leading rabbis in the Conservative movement and beyond. And with abundant readings that focus on spiritual issues and tikkun olam, Mahzor Lev Shalem speaks to the contemporary concerns of our congregants.
To provide everyone with a “preview” of the new mahzor, we are planning two sessions between now and the High Holy Days – one Shabbat afternoon after kiddush and on the evening of Selichot (Sept. 24). Please watch for announcements of these sessions.
If you would like to dedicate a copy of Mahzor Lev Shalem, a bookplate will be inserted on your behalf for a donation of $36 per book. Please contact the office if you are interested.