Nearly a decade ago, I began to realize that a great deal of Jewish
liturgy was not reaching into the hearts of congregants. Even
some of us read the Hebrew liturgy or knew some of the Hebrew chanting
by heart, the English seemed out of touch with contemporary life.
Jack Izakson, then the rabbi of my home temple, Temple Beth
Shalom, understood this phenomenon, and he and I began to dialogue
about what we could do. Rabbi
Izakson and I were not alone in having dialogues of this
kind. Throughout the world, conversations are ongoing
how to help Jews feel a deep sense of direct connection with God and
prayer. The Conservative Jewish Movement, for
formed a Hayom group—rabbis, scholars, thinkers—whose purpose is to
deliver new vision of inspiration and depth for Jewish worship and life.
While Rabbi Izakson and I discussed and explored, I got to work on
writing new Jewish liturgy in English, with Rabbi Izakson nudging me
toward ever greater depth. Over the next six years, with
Izakson my first rabbinic critic, then with the help of Rabbis Dov
Gartenberg and Stuart Altshuler, I wrote new poetry and
to accompany Jewish liturgy for Friday and Saturday services, High
Holidays services, and other annual services and life-events.
MODERN WORDS: POEMS, PRAYERS, AND READINGS collects
these in one volume.
click this link to see poems from the book. The
spiral bound, with highly readable print, so that it can fit right into
pews, its spine strong enough for repeated use.
you are Jewish, you will see reference lines with each poem for
place of use in liturgy. However, if you are not a
or if you are not Jewish, you can read these poems at home or
away, as the spirit moves you, without needing to attach them to one
specific place in a Jewish service.