Page 50 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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ER IC FRIEDLAND
Among the Recent American
Jewish Devotional Literature
W
it h in
tw o
m o v em e n t s
,
Conservative and Reform Judaism,
there has been considerable restlessness with prayerbooks in
recent years. Both groups have been convinced of the need for
improved texts, adapted to the needs of people who are com­
mitted to tradition and are equally sensitive to issues facing
modern man. They have wanted to confront the theological,
moral, and historical questions raised by the Holocaust, the estab­
lishment of the State of Israel, the use of the atom bomb, and
space exploration. At the same time, a need was felt to update
old translations, satisfying once, but unrelated to the forms and
syntax of the twentieth century.
While the Conservative
Siddur
and
Mahzor,
the prayerbooks
for the Sabbath, festivals and holy days generally conformed to
traditional liturgy, the Reform prayerbooks did not. Thus, any
revision or change in the latter would require a radical break
with the immediate past. (The first official prayerbook of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis was issued in 1895. A
sharp departure from the conventional
Siddur,
it shortened the
Musaf,
abbreviated the
Amidah,
and reduced the Hebrew prayers.
Even the concessions of a 1945 revision could not overcome the
theological accents of another age.)
Now, within the past few years, a series of new devotional
books have been issued by both rabbinic bodies: a
Mahzor
for
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by the Rabbinical Assembly,
edited by Jules Harlow; a new
Passover Haggadah,
prepared by
the Central Conference of American Rabbis, edited by Herbert
Bronstein; a
Siddur Shaarey Tefillah: Gates of Prayer,
by the
CCAR, edited by Chaim Stern and to be released in mid-1975;
finally, a
Mahzor Shaarey Teshuvah: Gates of Repentance,
to be
ready in 1976.
The
Mahzor
of the Rabbinical Assembly has been in print
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