Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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Mahzor,
widely used prior to the new publication, included
Bialik’s poem
Im Yesh Et Nafshekha
following the
Eleh Ezkerah.
However, it was of 1898 vintage. The new
Mahzor
brings us
closer to the frightening events of the recent past. One would
have to be insensitive to the human condition to be unmoved by
Hillel Bavli’s tribute to the 93 maidens who, stripped naked by
the Gestapo and commanded to make themselves available for
the pleasure of Nazi soldiers, are pictured as saying:
“We have cleansed our bodies and purified our souls.
And now we are at peace,
Death holds no terror; we go to meet it.
We have served our God while alive;
We know how to hallow Him in death.”
All the devotional literature contains references to Israel and
to Jerusalem. The new CCAR
Haggadah
concludes with the
familiar
le-shanah ha-baah be-Yerushalayim,
in contrast to a
previous Haggadah printed in 1923. The latter ended on a chau­
vinistic American note, de-emphasizing the national hopes of
the Jewish people.
The same emphasis characterizes the RA.
Mahzor.
As in the
Mahzor Kol Bo,
which ends with
le-shanah ha-baah
. . . , so too,
the new prayerbook. References to Israel, however, generally fol­
low traditional rubrics. The
Tehezenah
becomes, “May we bear
witness to Your merciful return to Zion, where we shall worship
You in reverence as in days of old . . There is one imaginative
litany of words contrapuntal to the Kaddish in the Yom Kippur
Musaf;
each word is followed by a place-name, suggesting courage
and martyrdom. In this connection there are references to death
camps, historic towns and Israeli places. The last named are
Jerusalem, Kfar Etzion, Hebron, Massada.
What is the meaning of the state of Israel? Abraham Joshua
Heschel raised this question in his book on Israel,
An Echo of
Eternity.
The new prayer literature could have been enriched by
material from such a text, and from others. Heschel showed how
history and the religious experience are intertwined: “Israel is
a personal challenge, a personal religious issue. We are God’s
stake in human history. We are the dawn and the dusk, the
challenge and the test. The presence of Israel is the repudiation
of despair. Israel calls for renewal of trust in the Lord of history.”
Thus, both monumental events of the twentieth century affect­
FRIEDLAND / AMERICAN JEWISH DEVOTIONAL LITERATURE
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