Monthly Archives: June 2015

New Siddur and Machzor from the Rabbinical Assembly

The Lev Shalem series includes
Mahzor Lev Shalem, published in 2010;
and Siddur Lev Shalem for Shabbat & Festivals, to be published in 2015.

Mahzor Lev Shalem has sold over 250,000 copies.  Lev Shalem seeks to embrace the diverse backgrounds and expectations in each of our communities and open doors for every congregant. For the congregant who is familiar with the t’fillah, the mahzor’s running commentary presents both a historical overview and insight into the meaning of prayers. For the congregant who doesn’t know Hebrew, the English translations are close to the meaning of the original and the transliterations are plentiful. For the seeker who comes to services looking for meaning and direction, the mahzor’s rich ­assortment of readings includes classic piyyutim that appear in Conservative publications for the first time; Hasidic stories and reflections; and quotes from Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Buber, contemporary Israeli and American poets, and leading rabbis in the Conservative movement and beyond. And with abundant readings that focus on spiritual issues and tikkun olam,Mahzor Lev Shalem speaks to the contemporary concerns of our congregants.

Siddur Lev Shalem follows on the heels of Mahzor Lev Shalem. Like the Mahzor, it includes a new translation in contemporary language, a commentary providing both historical context and conveying the spiritual meaning of the text and kavannot, poetry and prose enlarging our relation to the text. As an RA member remarked, Mahzor Lev Shalem “stretches us in two directions: it is both more traditional and more contemporary than any previous Conservative mahzor.” The new siddur continues with this approach: we’ve looked at each service, thinking through how it was put together, how the tradition around it developed, what customs were dropped that can be reincorporated, and what contemporary ideas can respond to the text. – Rabbi Ed Feld, senior editor, Siddur Lev Shalem


A Trip Down Memory Lane with Bill Marx

I love the Marx Brothers! 🙂


The Marx Brothers created the kind of universally appealing comedy that transcends time and trend. Chico, Groucho and Harpo (and occasionally Zeppo) had worked on stage, screen and radio for nearly 50 years when their last film, “Love Happy,” premiered in 1949. They left behind a treasure trove of comedic classics, including “Cocoanuts” (1929), “Animal Crackers” (1930), “Horse Feathers” (1932) and “Duck Soup” (1933).

By the time television burst on the cultural scene in the 1950’s, the vaudeville-era stars were middle-aged and the transition to the new medium gave them the largest audience they ever had. The kinescope technology available then created poor quality recordings, but the development of film allowed preservation of such later classics as Harpo’s famous 1955 recreation of the “Duck Soup” mirror scene on the “I Love Lucy” show. This episode has rerun in syndication for decades and has been seen by millions.

Most of the…

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A Crusader for Truth and Justice: An Interview with Daniel Mael

Horrifying to realize that universities are trying to restrict the freedom of Jewish students on their campus. This is exactly the way that Nazi Germany started persecuting Jewish students. I am surprised that this story got so little attention in the media.


When Brandeis University classrooms reopened on January 13, senior Daniel Mael was free to move around campus without restriction. That is because on January 9 university officials rescinded a No Contact Order on the student journalist, Dean’s List student, pro-Israel activist and athlete. The order forbade Mael from being in the same physical location as another student who had petitioned the university administration to “hold Mael accountable” for comments Mael had posted on the website Truth

It all started after the death of the two New York City police officers who were ambushed and murdered in seeming revenge for the unrelated killings of two black men by policemen. When Brandeis junior Khadijah Lynch, an African and Afro-American Studies major who served as an adviser to other undergraduate students, tweeted on December 20, “I have no sympathy for the NYPD officers who were murdered today,” and, I hate this…

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Non-Jews or Pre-Jews

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (... Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

For more than 2,000 years, the Jewish People have been a small and often persecuted minority. So it is not surprising that less than ten thousand non-Jews convert to Judaism every year.

But very surprising is when an Israeli newspaper (HaAretz) reports that British historian Tudor Parfitt, an expert on Judaizing movements, and a keynote speaker at a Jerusalem conference in early November. claimed that the number of non-Jews who believe they are descendants of Jews or ancient Israelites, about equals the total number of Jews who are counted in official international censuses.

Twenty five hundred years ago the prophet Zachariah declared: ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days (to come) ten people from every language and nation will take firm hold of each Jew…

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It’s not about the extra mitzvot: Mansplaining the Morning Blessings

It’s not about the extra mitzvot: Mansplaining the Morning Blessings.

..In Orthodox prayerbooks, a traditional daily morning blessing specifically thanks God for “not making me woman.” It is a part of a trio of prayers expressing gratitude for what we are not. The other two members of the trio are thanking God for”not making me a slave” and for “not making me a non-Jew”.  These blessings remain only in Orthodox prayerbooks, (at least in the negative “who has not made”  formulations) all other denominations having gotten rid of them for various reasons.

I have heard numerous well-intentioned men (and a some women like  Mrs. Leah Kohn  and Kressel’s Korner ) explain that the  blessing for not having been made a women is not a negative reflection on women, which the simple or pshat reading would tell, you but in fact is gratitude for the additional mitzvot/ obligations that a man has, but which a woman is excepted from due to her duties to her husband and childrens….

[but read on… these negative blessings were quite obviously sexist]