Rockdale Temple is very happy to announce that this September, we’ll be going out with the old and in with the new. The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Press has just finished publishing Mishkan HaNefesh, the new Machzor of the Reform Movement, and we’ve got 750 copies in house for your use and enjoyment this High Holy Day season! Seven years in the making, this fresh two-volume set blends tradition with innovation as it aims to engage each individual in prayer and reflection. The machzor is a revitalization of its predecessors and will replace the long-tenured Gates of Repentance, which will be retired after many years of faithful service to the congregation.
Mishkan HaNefesh began development after the success of the CCAR Press’ 2007 publication of Mishkan T’filah, which was adopted as Rockdale’s weekly Shabbat prayer book in 2008. The two books are intended as complements, featuring the same distinctive two-page layout and plenty of supplementary reading material that allows congregants to customize their prayer experience.
Throughout its journey to our sanctuaries, Mishkan HaNefesh has undergone extensive review. From 2011 to 2014, over 300 congregations (including Rockdale!), as well as chavurot, Hillel groups, and day schools, participated in piloting opportunities with the prayer book. Feedback from congregations like ours has had a significant impact on the final version that will be used by hundreds of reform congregations across North America to welcome in the year 5776. This is a machzor made by the collective Reform Movement for the collective Reform Movement. We’re very eager to begin the New Year with Mishkan HaNefesh, and we hope you’ll join us for this new chapter of Rockdale’s exciting story!
You may be wondering…
Why does Rockdale need a new machzor?
Gates of Repentance has served us well for many years. When it was first published in 1978, it represented exciting and progressive liturgical innovation. Incorporating more Hebrew and traditional liturgy allowed for a feeling of renewed tradition in the High Holy Days. Adding gender-neutral language addressed many of the contemporary needs of the Reform world. But today, our needs go beyond what Gates of Repentance can offer—the meaning behind the Holy Days needs to be addressed and updated. Many of us may feel disconnected from prayer and theological and ideological concepts that do not seem consistent with a contemporary sensibility. Congregations already using Mishkan T’filah (like Rockdale!) are ready for a machzor that serves as a companion to the approach of their siddur. Gates of Repentance is showing its age, and the Reform Movement needs a change in order to stay relevant.
Why should Rockdale make the change to Mishkan HaNefesh?
Like Mishkan T’filah, Mishkan HaNefesh makes strides towards a multi-vocality that creates a space for all to inhabit, offering a multiplicity of different approaches. It gives both the prayer leader and the community a wealth of resources for finding new meaning in these High Holy Days. Through updated translations, elucidating essays, rich commentary, and elegant poetry, along with easily accessible, complete transliteration and new liturgical innovations, Mishkan HaNefesh creates a dynamic prayer environment and breathes new life into High Holy Day services.
Many in our congregation have a strong emotional attachment to Gates of Repentance. Will we feel comfortable with Mishkan HaNefesh?
Gates of Repentance will live on through the many voices of Mishkan HaNefesh. Many of the readings and liturgical developments that first appeared in Gates of Repentance have found their way into Mishkan HaNefesh. By including these selections alongside new material, Mishkan HaNefesh allows for service leaders to design services by selecting from among different elements that will speak most strongly to their individual communities.
Rabbis Coran and Kahan have been diligently planning High Holy Day services that include the best of the fresh approach of Mishkan HaNefesh, while maintaining many of the inspiring and comforting prayer texts from Gates of Repentance. Our congregation will also continue our musical traditions—rest assured that the songs of our High Holy Days will be familiar and awe-inspiring as always, thanks to our quartet led by Mary Southworth and pianist Julie Spangler.
To explore Mishkan HaNefesh further, visit the CCAR Press’ informational webpage. There are also copies on display in Rockdale’s front lobby for your browsing pleasure. Check back often, like us on Facebook (Rockdale Temple) and follow us on Twitter (@RockdaleTemple)—we’ll be posting new machzor-related resources and information all summer long!
Thanks to the CCAR Press for promotional information.