Mishkan ha Nefesh: A dwelling place for our souls


This is not the first time, I have mentioned it, but I think it is still exciting news. Together with our sister congregations in South Africa we will embark on a new spiritual journey, introducing a new prayer book for the High Holy Days: Mishkan HaNefesh. The new Machzor will be a valuable tool for innovation in our Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur experiences. The language in the books is modern and accessible, with gender neutral wording and all Hebrew prayers available in transliteration.  There are inspired alternative options, a variety of study commentaries throughout the book, Torah reading options, and some magnificent new prayer alternatives. We are going to use the new Machzorim for the first time on Rosh HaShanah 2018.

Why do we need a new machzor? Why should we switch to Mishkan HaNefesh?

Our current Machzor, Gates of Repentance, has served Bet David well for many years. When it was first published in 1978, it represented exciting and progressive liturgical innovation. However, time has changed and we have changed. The fact that it does not include transliteration is a stumbling block for many in our communities. So too, many of today’s Jews feel disconnected from prayer and from theological and ideological concepts that do not seem consistent with a contemporary sensibility. Like Mishkan Tfilah, our Shabbat prayer book, Mishkan HaNefesh makes strides towards a multi-vocality that creates a space for all to inhabit, offering a multiplicity of different approaches. Through updated translations, elucidating essays, rich commentary, and a beautiful selection of poetry, Mishkan HaNefesh provides an environment for those of all backgrounds to find meaning in the High Holy Days.

Mishkan HaNefesh gives both the prayer leader and the community a wealth of resources for finding new and old meaning for the High Holy Days and to match the requirements for today‘s services. Mishkan HaNefesh breathes new life into High Holy Day services and forms a meaningful bridge to our Shabbat liturgy we love at Bet David.

How do you get your copy?

The new two volume Machzor can be bought from the offices from March 2018 on, but we are happy to offer you a pre-order option to save your copies already now, with a early bird discount. The regular set (one set includes the Machzorim for RoshHaShanah and Yom Kippur) price is R700. If you order your set(s) before 31 December and pay it by the end of 2017, we can offer you a special pre-order price of R600 per set. The other option we can offer you is to order now and pay them off in several installments for the regular price. Please use the order form (Mishkan HaNefesh Information Letter).

With your support, we will be able to make this important change in the worship life of our congregation. If you have questions regarding the new Machzor, please don‘t hesitate to contact me or any members of the ManCom.

 Rabbi Adrian M Schell