Convention of Conservative Rabbis Announces Liturgical Changes

The Rabbinical Assembly of America, central body of Conservative rabbis, today announced a “liturgical renewal” program designed to “reflect the crucial events of our time and relate them to the eternal Jewish tradition.”

In a session devoted to liturgy, the five-day 65th annual convention of the Assembly heard Rabbi Jules Harlow, associate director of the Rabbinical Assembly, discuss the compilation of a new Machzor (holiday prayer book) now underway, which, while retaining tradition, will “respond in some way to life today, if life is to respond to liturgy.” The program is well underway with the publication of a new weekday prayer book and a Selichot service as well as a new Rabbis Manual.

One of the “harshest facts of life” is the “destruction of 6,000,000 Jews in Europe in our time.” said Rabbi Harlow, who is director of the Assembly’s publication department. “It is impossible to respond to it adequately. But, it is sinful to continue ignoring it in our formalized liturgical settings in the prayer book. We must do more than mention it by quoting a poem or an essay or two. We must envision it in our new Machzor as an integral part of the fabric of the Yom Kippur martyr logy.”

He also revealed that part of the Machzor will be in Yiddish, the language of the modern martyrs in the ghettos and death camps of Eastern Europe. He pointed out that tradition will be preserved.

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