Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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FRIEDLAND / AMERICAN JEWISH DEVOTIONAL LITERATURE
41
since 1972 and enjoys a fair degree of success; and deservedly.
While some contend that “prayer is dead” and that any effort
to alter and enrich the religious service is vain and meaningless,
a goodly portion of Jews frequent the synagogue on the holy
days. Skeptics notwithstanding, a beautiful
Mahzor
as this one is,
handsomely printed and written, can be religiously exciting.
There are Jews who come to
shul
to worship, to
daven.
They
take God seriously and make Him an essential part of their lives,
if not the very center. They serve Him in many ways, through
the Jewish community, through education, through love of Israel,
Zedakah,
social action, family harmony, and prayer. They view
worshipping with other Jews as indispensable to a Jewish re­
ligious life. For them and for others on the periphery of such
commitment, the stimulus of a fresh text cannot be exaggerated.
If anything, it may enhance the religious experience.
In the introduction to Hertz’s
Daily Prayer Book,
he wrote:
“The
Siddur
is a daily companion, and the whole drama of
earthly existence—its joys and sorrows; work days, Sabbaths, his­
toric and solemn festivals; birth, marriage and death—is sancti­
fied by the formulae of devotion in that holy book.” It was a
spiritual history of the Jewish people, influencing them in the
sphere of personal religion and moral behavior. Hopefully, the
new devotional literature will serve a similar function.
The Rabbinical Assembly
Mahzor
is attractively bound. The
printing, both Hebrew and English, is in large type and easy to
read. Each page is set in a frame of light purple, while the print
is black.
Introducing the themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
are explanatory comments, and in the back of the prayerbook
one finds the sources used, both from new and old literature.
The references cover a kaleidescope of subject matter and writers,
including among others, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Hillel Zeitlin,
Martin Buber, S. Y. Agnon, Isaac Luria, Solomon ibn Gabirol,
Simha Bunam of Przysucha.
There are also selected readings prior to the
Amidah
sections
of each service. While they cover only a few pages, the choice is
generally good, although there is an occasional unevenness. For
example, on Rosh Hashanah morning the selections are taken
from Morris Joseph, from Tractate Sanhedrin, Martin Buber
(three), Maimonides (three), Deuteronomy, Tractate Shabbat,