Joyful beta testing

As some of you know, my dad (who I call Tateh) chaired the committee to rewrite the Conservative Movement’s High Holiday prayerbook and he’s been working on the daily prayerbook for the past few years as well. Today we got the first copies of the Friday night service (Kabbalat Shabbat), beautifully bound, for beta testing with a few synagogues, including Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton.

Growing up, I always sang Kabbalat Shabbat with Tateh, sometimes making the rounds of student prayer groups through Hillel, sometimes exploring different synagogues in Jerusalem, sometimes just the two of us curling up on the couch at home. He taught me tunes he’d learned from his grandfather. He’d stop to murmur excitedly to me, retranslating passages to show me the poetry of the Hebrew that had been lost in translation like he was letting me in on a delicious secret. Even when I live alone, when I do Kabbalat Shabbat by myself, I can’t help thinking of him and hearing his voice in the prayers. Since I’ve been living with my folks at home in Northampton, he and I have been testing out the new prayerbook each week, reading the new translations aloud to hear how they sound, reading the additions to see how they felt, talking over the choices he’s made. It’s been very special for me to get this early glimpse into his work, like being let in on a wonderful secret once again.

And to my surprise and delight, Tateh asked me if I would join him and Rabbi Justin David in leading the first service out of the new prayerbook this Friday at CBI. It means so much to me that he’s asked me to be a part of this, that my praying with him has meant as much to him as it has to me. And I can’t wait to see how everyone responds to his amazing work.


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