Mahzor Lev Shalem

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal
Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

Dear Friends:

In [the March 2011] issue of the Shofar you will find an article about a Torah burying ceremony planned for Sunday, April 3rd. We will be burying the pasul (unusable) Sefer Torah we replaced last year along with worn out Sifrei Kodesh (Sacred Books) that we have in our synagogue and homes.

Sometimes Sifrei Kodesh become physically worn out. Other times they are worn out because they no longer meet the spiritual needs of the community.

In the past several years we have updated our Shabbat and Weekday Siddurim (prayer books) and replaced our old Hertz Chumashim with Chumash Etz Hayim. It is now time to update our High Holy Day Mahzorim (Prayer Books).

Our current High Holy Day Prayer Book, “The New Mahzor,” is not so new anymore. It was first published in 1977. While still beautiful, the translation and commentary are no longer up to contemporary standards. Furthermore, the updated version of this Mahzor employs gender sensitive language. While this is laudatory, it means that we now have two different versions of the same prayer book in our hands during the holidays which leads to confusion.

In 2010 the Rabbinical Assembly published Mahzor Lev Shalem, a completely updated and refurbished Mahzor for the Conservative Movement. Not only is the translation and alternative prayer selection updated, fluid, and meaningful, but a complete and user-friendly commentary is now supplied in the margins. Furthermore, extensive transliteration of congregational Hebrew is supplied.

Many congregations adopted Mahzor Lev Shalem before it was first published last year. They made their decision based on small samples of the not yet completed text. Our Ritual Committee decided to wait until members could study the completed book in its entirety. Once we did, the Ritual Committee and Board enthusiastically voted to adopt the new Mahzor.

In the past, members were given the choice of purchasing their own Mahzor or borrowing one from the congregation. I always found the borrowing process distasteful. Members would line up in the office and sign up to borrow a Mahzor, which was marked with red tape like some kind of scarlet letter.

Our Ritual Committee and Board are committed to our acquiring a congregational set, as is the case with our other prayer books, so that a Mahzor will be available to everyone who attends services without a hassle or ID check. We plan to purchase these new High Holy Day prayer books through your voluntary donations. We will institute their use only when we have sufficient books for the entire congregation, most likely in 2012, but possibly this year. Congregants who donate Mahzorim will be able to have them dedicated and inscribed in memory or in honor of their loved ones and/or special occasions.

The donation for dedicating Mahzorim is:

1 – $36.00

3 – $100.00

8 – $250.00

18 – $500.00

You may donate Mahzorim on our website or by calling the synagogue office. If you have our older Mahzorim at home, please keep them for now. We will let you know when you may bring them back to the synagogue for appropriate disposal. (You may have noticed we stopped selling them two years ago in anticipation of this change.)

I hope you will join me in performing this mitzvah. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or Ritual Vice President Perry Arenson.

Shalom,

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

Tifereth Israel Synagogue Shofar – March, 2011

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