Gay synagogue’s new siddur arrives


The siddur we wrote about last year, published by the gay New York synagogue Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, has arrived. The shul also announced that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak at a special service on June 19.

From the CBST news release:

(New York, NY) — Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) is proud to publish Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha, (With All Your Heart), a new edition of the community’s long-standing Friday night prayer book. Created for individuals coming from a broad spectrum of Jewish practice and tradition, this siddur introduces numerous liturgical innovations that expand definitions of Jewish family and community to explicitly embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families.

“B’chol L’vav’cha publicly affirms the pride GLBT Jews possess today, and provides a message of tolerance, inclusion, and inspiration that will facilitate meaningful moments of communal and personal devotion and joy for all Jews,” said Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. “It roots itself firmly in the soil of Jewish liturgical tradition and draws creatively upon a whole variety of Jewish sources while providing a host of innovative and imaginative poems and prayers.”

With All Your Heart is a meaningful and important addition to a congregation’s liturgical collection, and is an important resource for LGBT-friendly synagogues.

Highlights of this new, inclusive prayer book include:

•    Readings by American, Israeli, and Yiddish poets and by gay and feminist writers, including Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Walt Whitman, Yehuda Amichai, and Rachel the Poet;
•    A broad AIDS section with writings by William Finn, Stephen Sondheim, Tony Kushner, Thom Gunn, and others;
•    Prayers for coming out, for celebrating transgender experience, and a memorial prayer for Transgender Remembrance Shabbat;
•    Readings by transgender and intersex members of CBST;
•    An extensive LGBT Pride section, including an LGBT Pride Al Hanisim prayer;
•    Prayers and readings on disability, the environment, and social justice;
•    American folk anthems, such as God Bless America (written by a Jewish immigrant), America the Beautiful (by a lesbian), and Lift Every Voice and Sing (considered the African American national anthem);
•    Prayers for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
•    Songs, readings, and blessings in Yiddish, Ladino, Russian, and French reflecting the diversity of the Jewish world;
•    The inclusion of feminine God language in Hebrew for many prayers;
•    Concubines Bilhah and Zilpah included among matriarchs Rachel, Leah, and Sarah, recognizing all of our mothers, not just the “legally married ones”;
•    Removing heterosexual references to God’s love for Israel in L’chah Dodi by changing kimsos hatan al kalah to kimsos lev b’ahavah.   

“This siddur represents and embraces all of us in our beautiful and God-given diversity,” said the book’s editor in chief, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of New York City’s Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) since 1992. “It represents a key facet of CBST’s mission of creating a kehilla kedosha, a sacred community, built on a love of the Jewish people, a passion for social justice, prayer, and study. Our hope is that this prayer book finds its way to synagogues and into homes across the nation.”

Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha, (With All Your Heart) was edited and compiled by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight Jews and is intended for Jews of every sexual orientation and gender identity. The prayer book is available for order in hardcover, as well as in a deluxe, personalized edition. A companion CD, With All Your Heart: A Musical Celebration of Shabbat at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, is also available for purchase. Those interested in placing orders may visit the CBST website, (

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