Mishkan ha Nefesh: Our prayer book for the HHD

Due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are understandable concerns about gathering in person this year for the High Holy Days. As we consider how to craft a meaningful High Holy Day experience in this unusual time, we are pleased – in great thankfulness to the CCAR press – to be able to provide a free online edition of our Machzor:

Open our Machzor for Rosh HaShanah here:

Mishkan HaNefesh Rosh HaShanah

Open our Machzor for Yom Kippur here:

Mishkan HaNefesh Yom Kippur

On Shabbat Shuva, we will use our regular prayerbook, which you can open here:

Mishkan HaTfilah for Shabbat

Get your own copy of our prayer books:

As many of you know, our siddur for Shabbat is available as an online flip book, which was made possible by the CCAR, to enable us to lead services via the Internet. We are sure many of you are using the flipbook, but we were wondering if you would prefer to hold your own physical copy of the
Mishkan during our services and also at home.

In addition, Covid-19 has changed the way we will be able to hand out our siddurim and High Holy Day prayer books in the Shul in the coming
months. The new health regulations prohibit us from sharing books or giving out loan copies at services. This means that congregants are asked to bring their own books to services. 

Therefore, we came up with an offer  for you to obtain your own Mishkan for Shabbat, and the Mishkan ha Nefesh for the High Holy Days: You can order them from the office, pay via EFT and pick them up from the guard house at Bet David, or, should you live in the Sandton and Northern Johannesburg area, we can organise a delivery to your doorsteps.

The Mishkan for Shabbat costs R450 and the High Holy Day set (two books) costs R700.  Please send an email to Glynnis, and she will organise with you the way to get your books: 011/783-7117  admin1@betdavid.org.za

Dear congregants,

I‘d like to share some special news with you. Together with our sister congregations in South Africa we have embarked on a new spiritual journey and introduced a new prayer book for the High Holy Days: Mishkan HaNefesh. The new Machzor has been 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 used the new Machzorim for the first time last year and are looking forward to deepen our experience this year.

Why do we need a new machzor?

Our old Machzor, Gates of Repentance, 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 2019

Please consider donating one or two sets of our new Machzor to Bet David to be loaned to guests on the day. We will acknowledge your donation with a book-plate.

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