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Congregation Beth Emek
From the Rabbi's Study
February 21, 2014 / 21 Adar I 5774
Transform High Holy Days

It won't happen this year, but it's coming.


By Rosh Hashanah 5776 (that's September 2015), Congregation Beth Emek will have transitioned to the new Reform Machzor, the prayer book for the High Holy Days.


The Machzor is called Mishkan Hanefesh (Sanctuary of the Soul). It is the companion volume to Mishkan Tefilah, our Shabbat prayer book. Publication is set for one year from now, but the time to buy a copy for the congregation is right now. By donating $36 to Congregation Beth Emek before March 1, you can dedicate a copy of the new Machzor in honor or in memory of someone you love.


It would be great to have enough copies of Mishkan Hanefesh at the temple for every person who attends our High Holy Day services. That can happen, if you make a donation. And, you will be saving the congregation money, because every copy that we order now can be purchased by the congregation at a substantial pre-publication discount.


A lot has happened since the last Reform Machzor was published in 1978. A different generation has a different approach to prayer, and to the observance of the High Holy Days. Mishkan Hanefesh is gender-inclusive (kind of like second-stage feminism; one step beyond "gender-neutral"). It has a two-page spread for each prayer, which parallels the layout of Mishkan Tefilah, providing traditional and contemporary alternatives for each prayer. All the Hebrew is transliterated right there on the page; no more turning to the back of the book.


Most importantly, though, Mishkan Hanefesh reflects a different kind of worship.  The Machzor is no longer the service itself, but rather, a guide to the inner experience that each of us hopes to find on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We want to grow, to be transformed, and Mishkan Hanefesh is arranged to facilitate OUR experience, to acknowledge that we are spiritual seekers.


I had the privilege of piloting two of the services in their draft form prior to coming to Beth Emek. I, and the community that I served, were moved by the beauty of the prayer book, by the dignity and contemplative quality of its poetry, by the translations that opened up new doors of meaning to traditional prayers.


I am very excited that the Religious Committee recommended, and the Board approved, our adoption of Mishkan Hanefesh. Now, it is your turn. I am inviting you to be part of the next stage in our congregation's High Holy Day experience, by contributing one or more copies of Mishkan Hanefesh. Please do so today, before March 1, so that we can make the most of your contribution. Place your order at: www.bethemek.org/hhdprayerbook, or drop a check off at the temple.


Rabbi Larry Milder