December 6, 2011

Introducing Siddur Ruach Shabbat: Temple Emanuel’s New Family Service Prayerbook

Filed under: Judaism, Newton, Prayer — marcstober @ 9:23 pm

Cross-posted to

This Saturday morning at Temple Emanuel’s lay-led Ruach Shabbat family service we’ll be unveiling our new prayer book, Siddur Ruach Shabbat. The product of over a year of collaboration between the synagogue’s volunteers and professional staff, the book aims to be “just right” by capturing the spirituality of a traditional Shabbat morning service and making it accessible to all. It also features 40 full color illustrations by the children of Temple Emanuel.

The book features a number of innovations to make it easy to understand and use:

  • Only the prayers needed for a regular Shabbat morning service are included, so there is no getting lost flipping pages.
  • Every prayer begins on a new page with English, Hebrew, and transliterated titles.
  • All prayers (except the silent Amidah) have transliterations.
  • Key phrases are bold.
  • And more…

As editor-in-chief my goal was to share with my fellow TE families and the Jewish world what I found so meaningful about Shabbat morning prayer. The book was a truly collaborative effort, from the first draft produced by committee Vice Chair David Goldstone, to the extensive editorial work by committee Chair Pamela Weinfeld, to substantive input from Religious School Director Ilene Beckman, Hazzan Sheini Daniel Nesson, Rabbi Michelle Robinson, and others. It may have taken longer than we thought but the result was far better than expected.

For now the only place to see the whole finished book is at Ruach Shabbat Family Services this Saturday at 10:45 a.m. in Temple Emanuel’s lower level activity room, and monthly thereafter. Please join us! For more information contact me at, Pam Weinfeld at, or Wayne Goldstein at

September 9, 2011

Adonai Tz’va’ot: The Lord of “Hosts”?

Filed under: Judaism, Prayer — marcstober @ 12:49 pm

For the Family Service Siddur I wanted a translation for “Adonai Tzeva’ot” that people wouldn’t need an English dictionary to understand like the venerable yet archaic “Lord of Hosts.” Siddur Sim Shalom actually leaves it untranslated, so I posted a question for the creative people in the OpenSiddur Facebook Group:

Anyone have a favorite translation for “Adonai Tzevaot” in the Kedushah? “Hosts” always makes me think of the person who takes you to a table at a restaurant.

After getting responses from Aharon Varady and Shmueli Gonzales as well as posing a few alternatives to my daughter, Hannah, as a representative of the target age the latest draft has:

Holy, holy, holy is the God of heavenly forces.

This made me really think about this peak moment of the service, and how it represents the fullness of God in three ways: as a force throughout the universe, as something not here but “up there” (mim’komo=”His place”), and specifically as God of Israeli (Elohayich tziyon).

I think perhaps the important thing you are saying is that while צְבָאוֹת (tz’va’ot, tzevaot) literally means “armies,” the reference is to forces of the universe being imagined as armies, as opposed to the human armies of nations.

Indeed I would say that imagining God as the master of gravity, black holes, quantum physics, and other mysteries of the physical universe very much fits in with my own theology and seem analogous to how it was formerly used by people who looked at starts but didn’t have the Hubble Space Telescope. (Or NOVA on PBS.)

Which brings me back for “forces” as translation which could mean physical forces like gravity, as well as being a direct modern PC translation for army as in “Israeli Defense Forces.”

Note: The image above was drawn by Hannah and illustrates the page across from this passage in the Siddur.