A new prayerbook introduced by the Jewish Reform Movement that breaks new ground in its inclusion of feminist and LGBT voices is being adopted by Temple B’nai Chaim (TBC) in Georgetown. The synagogue is lauding the text as groundbreaking, and they are hosting a special presentation and discussion about it on Wednesday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m..
The talk will be led by Rabbi Hara Person, senior editor of the new prayer book and publisher and director of the Central Conference of American Rabbis Press. This event is open to the public.
According to a press release from TBC, the new prayer book, Mishkan HaNefesh (which means ‘Sanctuary of the Soul’), includes gender-neutral blessings for the first time, and the word “couple” replaces the traditional “bride and groom” to acknowledge same-sex unions. It also includes updated translations, essays, commentary, selections of poetry by authors such as Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes and Henry David Thoreau integrated with traditional High Holy Day prayers.
The prayer book’s goal is to provide an environment for those of all backgrounds to find meaning in the High Holy Days. The Jewish High Holy Days, called Rosh HaShanah (New Year), and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), are the most sacred days of the Jewish calendar. While the New Year is a time for rejoicing, the entire period, which culminates in the Day of Atonement, is a period of deep personal reflection, individual repentance, and communal confession.
The new prayerbook is seen as thought provoking and is said to raise questions about the nature of Reform Judaism and belief. It was piloted in 300 congregations around the country.
Temple B’nai Chaim is located 82 Portland Ave., in Georgetown. For more information, visit the TBC website or call 203.544.8695.