09 October 2006

Gals and Geshem take two

I've rediscovered the link to Zack's posting on this topic and don't want to lose track of it. I now have a copy of the Masorti siddur Va'ani Tefilati and its Geshem prayer including both female and male Biblical figures (written by Rabbi Gil Nativ) as well those from several other siddurim that do the same. (Please see images below for these versions!)

Be sure to check out the versions available online, linked to in Zack's original post:

Happy Sukkot (and/or Ramadan, full harvest moon, belated Feast of Saint Francis, etc.) to all!


okay, this is a very not-clever way of doing things, but here's a JPEG of the text by Rabbi Dr. Gil Nativ, from the aforementioned Israeli Masorti siddur Va'ani Tefilati. Apologies for the bad orientation: I'm still not sure how to do much with things I scan, etc. -- but at least this way you can save it on your computer, manipulate it to face the correct way, etc. [RB note: I now have an English translation for this Hebrew--which has now been officially accepted for use in my minyan; please see the end of this post!*]

...and here's a JPEG of the version from Siddur Eit Ratzon (it cuts off the transliteration column, but it's got the complete Hebrew text & English translation; you can contact me if you want a PDF or JPEG of the cut-off page area; it says that it is based on the text by Mark Frydenberg):

and finally, the version from the attractively-laid out interlinear Siddur Hadesh Yameinu (from Congregation Dorshei Emet, the Reconstructionist Synagogue of Montreal; I do not know the attribution for its newly-composed elements & would welcome more information to give cresit where it is due!)):

And here's an English composition I've just been made aware of:

A congregant of mine created her own English egalitarian additions to the tefilat Geshem. I forward them for those who might be interested, with her permission.
-- Josh Hammerman


By: Karen Hayworth Hainbach


Lively, lovely eyes, clear as aqua water
Amid two harems, she stayed pure as water
She greeted passers-by with food and water
Her laughter bubbled as a spring of water

Congregation: For Sarah’s sake, send water!


She kindly sated man and beast with water
Guided by faith elemental as water,
She transposed twins, at odds as oil and water,
Switching Isaac’s blessing, precious as water

Congregation: For Rivka’s sake, bless us with water!


Spurned, soft eyes burned by tears like salty water,
Sustained by faith deep as a well of water,
Fertile as a field, surfeited with water,
She praised God, thanks overflowing like water

Congregation: For Leah’s sake, favor us with water!


She met her husband by a well of water
He yearned for her as sabras thirst for water
Her children exiled to Babylon’s water,
Her tears cascaded as a fall of water

Congregation: For Rachel’s sake, comfort us with water!


Miryam the Prophet, named for bitter water,
Protected Moses’ basket in the water
Timbrel in hand, she danced beside the water
In her merit, you sent the well of water

Congregation: For Miryam’s sake, provide us with water!

They shunned the Calf - their virtue shone like water;
Gave copper mirrors, reflective as water,
To fashion the Mishkan’s laver of water;
And monthly dunked in mikvas’ cleansing water

Congregation: For their sake, shower us with water!

November 2004

* Thanks for Rabbi Leonard Berkowitz for providing me with this translation:

Geshem Prayer

for Rain

From Masorti Siddur Va'ani Tefillati, 1998

additional verses by Rabbi Gil Nativ

Translation: Rabbi Robert Scheinberg

Our God and God of our ancestors:

a Remember our father (AV), whose heart poured out to You like water;

b You blessed (BERACHTO) him, as a tree planted near water;

g He and his beloved drew near (GIYER) all who were thirsty for water;

d At age ninety, from her breasts (DADIM) milk flowed like water;

For the sake of Abraham and Sarah, do not withhold water!

h Remember the one (HANOLAD) whose birth was foretold as the angels drank water;

v You instructed (VESACHTA)

his father to spill his blood like water;

z The meritorious one (ZAKAH) gave the father's servant to drink from a pitcher of water;

h She hurried (CHASHAH) to draw also for his camels from the well of water;

For the sake of Isaac and Rebekah, grant the gift of water!

t Remember the one who took (TA'AN) his staff and crossed the Jordan's water;

y He gathered his heart (YICHED) and rolled the stone from the well of water;

k A bride (KALAH) switched with her elder, whose eyes were like water;

l She was not (LO) comforted over her sons; her tears were like water;

For the sake of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, do not withhold water!

n Remember the one drawn forth (MASUI) in a bulrush basket from the water;

n They said (NAMU), "He drew water and provided the sheep with water."

s On the Sea of Reeds (SUF), he heard his sister lead a song at the water;

a In the desert there arose (ALTAH) on her behalf a well of water.

For the sake of Moses and Miriam, grant the gift of water!

p Remember the one appointed (PAKID) over the Temple, who would immerse himself five

times in water;

t He went (TZO'EH) to cleanse his hands with the sanctification of water;

q The poor one called (KAR'AH) out Your name; her love for You could not be

extinguished by water;

r You accepted (RATZITA) her returnees from the land of rivers of water.

For the sake of Zion and her Temple, do not withhold water!

sh Remember the twelve (SHNEMASAR)

tribes of Israel, whom You brought through the


sh You sweetened (SHEHIMTAKTA)

the brackish marsh for their sake into sweet water.

t For You their descendants' (TOLDOTAM) blood was spilled like water.

t Turn to us (TEFEN) for

our souls are engulfed like water!

For all of Israel's sake, grant the gift of water!

For you are Adonai our God

who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall

For blessing and not for curse (Amen)

For life and not for death (Amen)

For abundance and not for scarcity (Amen)

06 October 2006

A Silly Photo Toy

See which celebrity you look like...

05 October 2006

Machzor Madness: In with the New!

I davened out for the first time out of Machzor Hadash/The New Machzor these Yamim Nora'im, at both the shul where I belong & the shul where I work--and I much prefer it to either the Harlow (which my previous Conservative kehillot have used, and which I led Rosh Hashanah/YK davening out of at Yale for several years) or the old Silverman (which the Traditional Minyan at Adas still uses, and which my childhood shul used lo those many moons ago).

It's got all of the advantages of the Harlow:
  • Conservative, not Orthodox, in its texts
  • not outrageouly voluminous and stuffed with piyyutim no one knows, but
  • keeps enough of the traditional texts and piyyutim people do know!
  • provides an alternative Yom Kippur mincha reading from Lev. 19 as well as the traditional reading of Lev. 18
and none of the disadvantages:
  • no evil purple text for Shabbat insertions (and is more attractively & legibly laid out in general)
  • actually translates on the left what's there in the Hebrew on the right, instead of abridging or fudging it (drove me crazy the way Harlow splits up the passages in Rosh Hashanah musaf amidah translation so you can't actually use it to see what you're davening when you know most but not all of the unfamiliar vocabulary), which allows you to actually use the 2 simultaneously or back-and-forth, unlike Harlow's set-up which presumes either complete Hebrew literacy or total ignorance of the Hebrew side of the page
  • has in the back an "alternative Amidah opening" which includes the matriarchs, and includes them all in its English translations of the Amidah (with a note saying that the translation is based on the alternative opening found on page 800-whatever)
  • has gender-sensitive language (I forget whether they claim to be gender-neutral, gender-balanced, or gender-sensitive...but I do know there's not a bunch of referring to God as He all over the place; I believe they pull the same trick as Slim Shalom re: phrases like "Adonai" or "Avinu Malkeinu," of transliterating them in italics in the English rather than either translating them with the gendered terms "Lord" and "Our father, our king" or with somewhat less accurate and less specific gender-neutral terms such as "Sovereign" and "Our parent, our ruler")
  • has good interpretive selections, separate from the translations (which, as I've said above, actually are translations of the Hebrew, instead of giving us a new English version of the Ashamnu that concludes "we are xenophobic, we yield to evil, we are zealots for bad causes"), and more of them as little short thought-provoking observations at the bottom of a page, thematically linked to the main traditional text appearing above it
  • has a martyrology that doesn't make me wince, but does make me cry--one that acknowledges that the history of Jewish suffering didn't just skip from Roman oppression to 19th/20th-c. Eastern Europe and Nazi Germany with nothing in between and nothing after (even if the rabbi leading Musaf in my service didn't use any of the 3 passages that had to do with medieval massacres and forced conversions, they were in there: one had to do with the Jews burned in the marketplace of Blois in the 12th century--a Jew from Sens drove me there at 11 at night, back in 1994, because I had wanted to visit the site) -- plus it acknowledges and includes Yiddish, the language spoken by most of the Jews who died in the Holocaust (prints the Yiddish text as well as the English translation of the Partisans' Song), instead of continuing to ignore the vernacular of the vast majority of Ashkenazi Jews from medieval times until the early-to-mid-20th century in favor of liturgical & modern Israeli Hebrew on the one hand and late-20th-c. English on the other
  • and that doesn't commit the transgression that I regard as politically charged and theologically near-blasphemous, of asking me to recite an Al Khet for "the sins which we have sinned before you and before them"--the six million--by evils such as appeasement or failure to act. We don't have intermediaries, saints, or intercessors in Judaism (by and large), and I'm not about to set up the victims of Nazi genocide, no matter how great their suffering or how important in our Jewish history, as some kind of semi-divine body before whom I should be genuflecting and confessing my sins, particularly ones of a semi-political nature.
  • has fewer hokey moments in the English translations or interpretive selections that would make me roll my eyes rather than raise them in reflection or gratitiude (I don't miss not having "who shall be torn by the wild beast of resentment, and who shall be drowned by the waters of jealousy"--I don't mind the idea, but never liked the execution, and I really do want to keep actual translation & interpretation separate)
Just about the only things lacking that one might complain of, so far as I can see, are:
  • The Avodah service does not include all of the descriptive text in the Hebrew (which we always skipped at Yale anyway: the rabbi read the narrative framing in English regardless): it provides the English for this narrative framing and then both Hebrew & English for everything the Kohen and the people said & the description of the recitation of the Name (which was what the hazzan would read/enact in Hebrew at Yale anyway). Fine by me! And if people really wanted more, it would be easy to make booklets/photocopies.
  • I don't remember seeing some of my old favorites from the English selections in the Harlow (poems by Anthony Hecht and maybe also A.M. Klein?)...but so much is gained in the other English readings they add that I can deal with this potential loss.
Until that new RA/USCJ machzor comes out, and unless it proves itself superior to what the Conservative rabbis & laypeople of Media Judaica have produced in Machzor Hadash/The New Machzor, I know what I'll be davening out of from now on on the High Holy Days. I thank Adas Israel and B'nai Israel for making it their machzor of choice, and I hope more kehillot (especially ones who haven't gotten around to replacing their Silvermans and are just now in the market for new machzorim) will follow their lead.



[shamelessly repeated from my post to the Shefa Network
group ]

Oh, and P.S.:
Its prayer for the country & prayer for the state of Israel are both better IMHO than the ones in SimShalom & Harlow machzor. No more "administer all afFAIRs of state FAIRly" (my friend Shari's great point of amusement with the version of the Prayer for Our Country in Sim Shalom)!