Mishkan ha Nefesh: A dwelling place for our souls
I‘d like to share some special news with you. 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 in 2018.
Why do we need a new machzor?
Our current Machzor, Gates of Repentance, has served the Bet David well for many years. When it was first published in 1978, it represented exciting and progressive liturgical innovation. However, today it is beginning to feel dated. 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.
Why should we switch to Mishkan HaNefesh?
Gates of Repentance was a wonderful innovation in its time. Incorporating more Hebrew and traditional liturgy allowed for a feeling of renewed tradition in the High Holy Days. Adding gender-neutral language addressed many of the contemporary needs of the Reform world. Today, our needs go beyond gender neutral language – the basic meaning of the holidays needs to be addressed and updated. Mishkan HaNefesh gives both the prayer leader and the community a wealth of resources for finding new meaning in these High Holy Days. Through updated translations, readings, and poetry, as well as easily accessible transliteration and new liturgical innovations, Mishkan HaNefesh breathes new life into High Holy Day services and forms a meaningful bridge to our Shabbat liturgy we love at Bet David and which is based on Mishkan T’filah.
How do you get your copy?
Please note that we will use the new prayer books exclusively during the upcoming High Holy Days. If you have spare copies from the old Gate of Repentance, please consider donating them to our sister-congregations. To ease the process and to ensure that you will have your own set in time before the High Holy Days, I invite you to pre-order your copy now. The regular set price (one set includes the Machzorim for RoshHaShanah and Yom Kippur) is R700. Please use the order form on this next page: Mishkan HaNefesh Information Letter and Order Form.
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 members of the ManCom.
Rabbi Adrian M Schell