Last week at Temple Israel in New York City, we received a very special, exciting package in the mail. We opened the box—and there were our advance copies of the new CCAR machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh. We of course were very excited to receive the copies, and began treating the copies as if they were precious jewels.
Cantor Irena Altshul and I went right into the sanctuary, where we spent a surrealistic, profoundly moving hour and a half standing at the bimah in our main sanctuary, reading, praying, singing, holding and touching, dreaming, and getting very excited about this forthcoming Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur nearly half a year away. We felt blessed.
We would encourage other clergy to do the same. The time we spent praying with these new books not only inspired us and reinvigorated our spirits for the upcoming High Holy Days, but also strengthened us, individually and as a team, and helped us to focus on the preparation that lies ahead. Reading the books is no doubt a meaningful experience, but to actually pray with them right away enabled our souls to soar.
We can’t wait to receive the full shipment upon publication, and then to help others realize our new CCAR Machzor as a gateway to spirituality in the deepest sense. This was far beyond the draft copies we’d experimented with. We know that the beautiful and profound alternative readings and interpretations, along with the fully transliterated liturgy will make a profound difference during each Service. With this difference, all of our congregants will be able to have access to the Divine, to t’filah and the experience of worship, and to the essential spirit of what it means to be witness to our tradition.
We know that making this change to Mishkan HaNefesh is a crucial part of enriching their experiences at services and allow us to touch the Holy and for us to be touched and transformed by the Holy. This new machzor will help us all to create and enrich each kehillah kedosha. For many, Yamim Noraim will never be the same!
We also encourage you to check out the resources that CCAR has provided online: https://www.ccarpress.org/content.asp?tid=349#mh_resources
Rabbi David Gelfand serves Temple Israel in New York City