CCAR Press Prayer Rabbis

New Times and Seasons: A Supplement to ‘L’chol Z’man v’Eit’

Rabbi April Davis is the editor of the new supplement to L’chol Z’man v’Eit, the CCAR’s clergy manual and life-cycle guide. In this blog post, she reflects upon her own experiences using L’chol Z’man v’Eit and offers a glimpse into the supplement’s contents.

לַכֹּל זְמָן וְעֵת לְכׇל־חֵפֶץ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם׃

A season is set for everything; a time for every experience under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I received my copy of L’chol Z’man v’Eit from my rabbi, Andy Klein, when I was ordained in 2015. In the note that accompanied the gift, he told me that I would be part of people’s most tender and intimate moments and this book would be my guide. Looking back on my seven years in the rabbinate, it truly has been. Holding the binder, taking a few pages on the run, or using the electronic version on my iPad, I have joined people in marriage, named babies, led conversions, and stood at hospital bedsides. I know you have, too. It is a steady companion as we navigate traditional and new sacred moments with the many people we serve.

Published in 2015, L’chol Z’man v’Eit/For Sacred Moments: The CCAR Life-Cycle Guide offered traditional rituals and new blessings to clergy in joyous and mournful moments. Not only were some of the resources new, but the guide was published in a unique format: a binder with pages that could be removed and reordered as necessary. It was also released as a digital PDF. In both the substance and the design, the old was made new and the new was made holy (Rav Avraham Isaac Kook). 

True to the design and intent of the original, we can and should continue adding content to reflect our changing rabbinates and our rapidly evolving world. Today we are called to witness and bless increasingly diverse moments. Sometimes we are present at an unfolding tragedy; at other times we bring Judaism and joy to a new situation. For everything there is a season, a time for every experience under heaven. To that end, CCAR Press decided to publish an update to the guide in the form of a print and digital Supplement. I was honored to serve as editor of this project. The goal of the Supplement to L’chol Z’man v’Eit is to recognize even more of those times and seasons and mark them as sacred.

Including new material for all facets of the life-cycle, the print Supplement is designed to fit into the existing guide (instructions are provided on the first page). The digital Supplement is available as a separate PDF or integrated into the original PDF manual. In the Birth section, there are prayers and rituals for people hoping to conceive or experiencing miscarriage, premature birth, the illness of a child, or adopting an older child who is able to participate in the ceremony. There is unique liturgy for a marriage that includes children, along with new rituals for divorce and ending relationships.

Expanding the Healing section are prayers for minor illness or injury, a sick child, eating disorders, addiction, assault, and abortion. The Mourning section includes new meditations to address communal loss and the death of a hurtful parent along with a framework for the funeral of someone who died by suicide.

On the communal level, we are often called on to address both our congregations and the communities in which we live. For the congregation, we included rituals such as a reconsecration ceremony and a prayer for people leaving a community. Outside the doors of the synagogue, there are rituals for people moving into or out of a residence, a child leaving home, people moving in together as a step in their relationship, and an individual entering long-term care. Most of the Community section, though, is devoted to the difficult moments we face in the world. Organized into three parts—In Times of Fear, Acute Crisis, and When Healing Comes—there are multiple meditations and readings for a variety of difficult situations. Natural disasters, climate change, gun violence, racism, and antisemitism are specifically addressed. 

The supplement reflects the creativity and generosity of CCAR members. Committee members Rabbis Carolyn Bricklin-Small, Alan Cook, Lisa Edwards, PhD, Jen Gubitz, Marc Katz, and Ben Zeidman, and CCAR editor Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, PhD, were partners in seeking the moments to be reflected in the Supplement. Through searches of the CCAR and Women’s Rabbinic Network Facebook pages, online requests, and direct questions posed to our colleagues, we created a list of the most needed blessings and readings. We then compiled these from various sources, with some previously published, but many others written specifically for the Supplement.

Colleagues who have solemnized these new life-cycle moments contributed their wisdom. In particular, the Community section is a powerful collection of reflections from those who have been in the midst of crises. Their rituals and readings have been tested under difficult circumstances and generously shared. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this Supplement and, especially, to the committee and to Rabbi Pilz for their effort and dedication. It is my hope that this Supplement moves us towards finding and marking holiness in every time and season. I am adding the pages to my guide and know that they will be part of many tender and intimate moments of my rabbinate in the years to come.

The Supplement to L’chol Z’man v’Eit is available as a print and PDF bundle at It can also be ordered together with the original edition in print, as a PDF, or as a print and digital bundle.

Rabbi April Davis is a rabbi at the Center for Exploring Judaism at Central Synagogue in New York City

Books News Rabbis Reform Judaism

A Wedding, Both Personal and Historic     

This past weekend I had the privilege of officiating at a wedding of two sweet men in Philadelphia. They are members of Congregation B’nai Olam, the congregation in Fire Island Pines where I have served for the last seventeen years as the high holy day rabbi.

I have officiated at many weddings since becoming a rabbi, some straight and many gay. Some have been legal, though a good number of the gay weddings I officiated at before 2011 were not. They have all been special and beautiful in their own ways. Some have been particularly special, like when I officiated at weddings of close friends and relatives. But this wedding was its own kind of special.

First the personal. Of course, every wedding is personal. This lovely couple was together for forty-two years and fifty-one weeks before becoming legally married. That is mind-boggling – both the capacity to stay together through thick and thin, and despite the lack official sanction, and also the fact that they can now legally get married. What a blessing that was, to be able to stand together under the chuppah, supported by their family members, including the 95 year old mother of one of them. As they said to me, they never in their wildest dreams imagined that this day would come.

And that’s where it becomes historic. As soon as gay marriage became legal last year in Pennsylvania, they set a date and called me. The time had come. And so almost exactly a year to the date that gay marriage became legal in Pennsylvania, they got married. What a blessing this was too, that their own state would recognize their marriage. The date of this past weekend becomes even more dramatic when you realize that this wedding was also three days before the Supreme Court is poised to hear arguments that will hopefully lead to gay marriage becoming the law of the land.

There was another level of history as well, one which was perhaps only significant to me as the rabbi, but important nevertheless. This wedding was also the first one I officiated at using L’chol Zman v’Eit: The CCAR Life Cycle Guide commonly known informally as the “rabbi’s manual”. Having worked with Rabbi Don Goor, editor of the guide, for several years on this project, I was very excited to finally get to use it.


As Don and I worked on the guide, one of the guiding principles of our work was that a wedding was a wedding, no matter the gender of the couple. This was a natural outgrowth of the historic stances CCAR has long taken in support of LGBTQ issues in general, and gay marriage in particular. We wanted to create liturgy that was beautiful and fit the unique moment, with enough options to meet the needs of different kinds of couples. We wanted to break down the wall between a “normative” wedding and “non-normative” wedding. In planning the ceremony with this couple, I was pleased to see how well the material in the guide worked, and how easy it was to customize it for them. The fact that all the material I needed to meet their needs was there in the guide also sent an important message, that the CCAR and its rabbis fully accept and support marriage equality. This too is a blessing.

Siman Tov u’Mazel Tov!

Rabbi Hara Person is Publisher of CCAR Press at the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Books News Rabbis Reform Judaism

L’chol Z’man v’Eit – The Time Has Come For A New Life-Cycle Guide

When I was ordained in 1987, Rabbi Alexander Schindler presented each of us with a Rabbi’s Manual. Over the years the binding of my manual split as I added favorite poems and creative pieces of liturgy.  Since the publication of THE RABBI’S MANUAL – MAAGLEI ZEDEK much had changed in the Jewish community and in the lives of individual Jews. So in 2010, a terrific group of colleagues came together to create a new rabbi’s manual which would allow for more creativity on the part of each rabbi.

With the following words we first articulated our mission:

Our shared work together is the creation of a new CCAR rabbi’s manual that will help Reform Rabbis develop and enhance meaningful ritual moments in the lives of those we serve.  This new manual, in both book form and as an on-line resource, will provide CCAR members with a collection of liturgy for essential life cycle moments, as well as new, creative liturgy for less traditional rituals, reflecting our time and the diverse community we serve.  While welcoming innovation the liturgy should maintain a strong tie to our tradition.  Our work will be to cull the best of existing liturgical material while updating and adding new material where necessary. 

Our work was guided by Rav Kook’s text:  הישן יתחדש והחדש יתקדש – The old will be made new and the new will be made holy.

Kavanah for Birth Chapter
Kavanah for Birth Chapter

As rabbis we know that Jewish rituals are continually being renewed and developed as we, members of the Jewish community, realize there are moments in our lives that need to be sacralized.

We also invited a group of cantors from the ACC, led by Cantor Michael Shochet, to work with us so that this new publication would become one that both members of the CCAR and of the ACC could use for life cycle and other sacred moments.

We are blessed that the rabbis of our tradition have bequeathed to us practices that continue to have the power to touch our lives.  Often these rituals succeed as they have for generations. However, often they have become routine and we must envision these practices anew in order for them to remain relevant in our world.

We also recognize that our personal and communal lives are not fully reflected in the rituals of our tradition.  There are holy moments that have not been recognized by our tradition.  Rather than merely relying upon the rituals of our past, our goal was to be open to the creation of new rites and ceremonies that reflect our lives and our world.

This new Life-Cycle Guide is designed to allow the officiant to create a meaningful ritual that follows the outline of the tradition while inviting flexibility and creativity.

Here are some of the features you will discover when you open your copy of L’chol Z’man v’Eit – The CCAR Life-Cycle Guide:

  • From the start we realized our charge was to create more than a manual.  We are not plumbers or electricians who utilize a manual to install new pipes or refrigerators.  Rather than using the familiar term “rabbi’s manual,” we have entitled our book L’chol Z’man v’Eit – The CCAR Life-Cycle Guide.
  • L’chol Z’man v’Eit does not present complete life-cycle services for our central ritual moments. Instead it enables the officiant to choose from among options for each stage of the ritual.
  • The opening of each chapter features a List of Sections that reflects the structure of the prototypical ritual. Within that structure you will find multiple options. Many are included within the printed volume, with additional options available online. These different choices reflect a variety of messages, theologies, and styles, as well as .gender variations.
  • The loose-leaf format allows the officiant to select the pieces for a given life-cycle event or ritual, and then to order them within the binder according to your needs.
  • The online version offers additional choices that can be downloaded, printed, and added to your binder as needed, or used on a portable electronic device.
  • L’chol Z’man v’Eit has a much greater emphasis on healing, recognizing the role of the clergy in helping congregants dealing with a wide range of issues.
  • Throughout the volume there is material that deals with the realities of contemporary life, ie natural disasters, stages of aging, being in or having loved ones in the military, and even a ritual of changing name upon changing gender identity.
  • A section on Community includes different kinds of blessings for moments in communal life, such as the installation of a new Executive Director, or honoring donors.
  • At the front of each chapter in the on-line version there is a kavanah for the rabbi’s personal use. It is our hope that these kavanot will help up prepare ourselves for the life-cycle event or ritual that we will be leading, thus enhancing our experience as an officiant.

One major innovation of this book, in addition to what is listed above, is the approach we have taken in the wedding section. There is now no differentiation between same sex and opposite sex marriage. A variety of options are presented from which the rabbi may choose based on the needs and wishes of the couple.  This decision was based upon the idea that Reform Judaism recognizes every wedding to be sacred.

הישן יתחדש והחדש יתקדש – The old will be made new and the new will be made holy. My prayer for each of us:   May לכל עת connect us deeply with that which is meaningful from our tradition.  May it also open to us new horizons through rituals that reflect our time.  And may we, through this volume, be blessed to bring holiness to the lives of those whom we serve.

Order your copy of L’chol Z’man v’Eit now, either the print book or the PDF, or both.