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Adina B. Newberg

Israelis who have until now viewed themselves as "secular" in the rigid Israeli dichotomy between "religious" and "secular" are finding new ways of creating communities of meaning that connect to Jewish sources and yet stay aligned to values of pluralism and humanism.

These communities that do not follow the letter of the halakhah are developing in highly "secular" environments such as Tel Aviv and Nahalal and create Shabbat and holiday services combining live music, traditional prayers, and newly created prayers. By doing this, they come nearer to finding a closer echo and a truer mirror to their concerns and spiritual searches while, at the same time, finding spiritual expressions to their deep longing for connection to Judaism. Beyond the services and the communities that are forged, a new identity that bridges aspects of secularism, humanism, and spirituality is being created.

The article analyzes the reasons for this relatively new phenomenon in the context of Israeli religious and political life, and the existential crisis that has evolved as a result. The article also describes in detail two such communities as examples of this development.

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Prayer as a History

Of Witnesses, Martyrs, and Plural Pasts in Post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina

David Henig

This article explores how Muslims in Central Bosnia engage with the violent past through acts of prayer to make history. It traces two idioms expressed in prayers whereby Bosnian Muslims affectively apprehend, remember, and temporalize the past: witness (šahit) and martyr (šehit). These two idioms, I argue, allow Muslims to reanimate recent critical events as the realms of personal moral-cum-temporal orientations rather than unreflectively participating in an ongoing nationalization of the past in the public discourses. This article thus suggests to take seriously an act of prayer as a mode of historical consciousness— an assemblage of divergent sensibilities, materialities, practices, and ethical conduct—in order to develop a more nuanced perspective on the past as actively and ethically in-the-making in the present.

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Emotions and Authority in Religious Organisations

The Case of a New Prayer Group in Contemporary Transcarpathia

Agnieszka Halemba

This article reflects on the place of emotionally arousing ex- periences within religious organisations. Using data obtained through participant observation and interviews, it outlines a research approach for investigations of the interrelationships between particular features of religious practices. Those features have been pointed out in many previous anthropo- logical and sociological works, but few works attempted to analyse connections and interdependencies between con- crete features of religious traditions. The present article takes inspiration from contemporary 'modes of religiosity' theory to explore further the relationships between highly emotion- ally arousing religious experiences and centralised religious authority. Going beyond Whitehouse's theory, it is argued that centralised religious organisations can influence the so- cial features of a religious movement through management of emotionality in ritual practice.

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Alexandra Wright

Rabbi Lionel Blue taught prayer and spirituality at Leo Baeck College to generations of rabbinic students. Unafraid to speak about his own experience of God, crossing the boundaries to experience the worship of other faiths, he passed on to his students his respect for the integrity of other faiths, their texts and their form of worship. He was a consummate writer of prayers, capturing the worshipper's own sense of inadequacy and humility when standing before God, while at the same time acknowledging the value of our 'good works'. This personal remembrance of Rabbi Lionel Blue pays tribute to a wise, understanding, intuitive and kind teacher, a man of unflinching honesty, full of humility and self-deprecating but witty humour.

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Gwendolen Burton

Infertility and pregnancy loss (miscarriage, termination, stillbirth and neonatal death) affect a significant proportion of our community, both women and men. While biblical narrative shows a range of reactions to infertility, the idea that a child is a blessing, or even a reward from God, can be unhelpful for people struggling with childlessness. Meanwhile, standard Jewish liturgy is completely silent, as though these issues are too painful to be confronted, even in prayer. Our prayer books must offer support and spiritual guidance to individuals at times of crisis. The article concludes with some new liturgy, and with relevant readings and prayers, adapted for the purpose, from existing prayer books.

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Ora (Rodrigue) Schwarzwald

Two Ladino prayer books for women dating from the sixteenth century are compared in this article. The first of these (S1) is a manuscript and the second one (S2) is a printed book from Thessalonica. The comparison shows that although both include daily prayers as well as prayers for the Jewish year cycle, S1 includes many psalms that S2 lacks, whereas S2 includes the Passover Haggadah, Birkhot Hanehenim, and many other prayers that pertain to woman's Jewish life that are missing in S1. S1 might have been used at home as well as in the synagogue, whereas S2 has been restricted to domestic use. S2 is very informative and instructs the woman in detail how to perform Jewish law, whereas S1 has very few instructions and they all relate to the prayers. It is clear that S1 has been written by a non-professional writer in a non-standard way, whereas S2 has been written by a learned rabbi who followed the Jewish law about requirements women need to fulfil. These prayer books had no continuation in Sephardi tradition in spite of their importance.

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Eric Friedland

This article outlines the history and ethos of Forms of Prayer for Jewish Worship, the prayer book of the West London Synagogue of British Jews, from the first issue in 1841 until the major changes of the 1930s and 1950s. Against this background, Rabbi Lionel Blue provided a re-envisioning for a British Jewry confronted by the aftermath of the Shoah and the impact of the creation of the State of Israel. He addressed elements missing in modern-day synagogue worship: Jewish literacy, truthful prayers in a contemporary idiom, and a grappling with current realities. He brought to the task his skills as a translator and his spiritual sensitivity in composing new prayers in direct unaffected language. These contributed to the immediate success of the ground-breaking 1977 edition of the Sabbath and Daily Prayer Book, and the highly acclaimed volume for the High Holy Days (1995), which reintegrated traditional liturgical materials and structures and introduced study passages from classical and contemporary Jewish thinkers.

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Benji Stanley

Both the American Mishkan Tefilah (2007) and the British Forms of Prayer (2008) contain striking renderings of the tenth, fourteenth and fifteenth blessings of the Amidah (traditionally the Blessings for the Ingathering of Exiles, the Rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Flourishing of the Messiah). A close comparison of these blessing in the two siddurim, exploring how each interacts with the classical liturgy, reveals fundamental similarities and subtle differences between the two prayerbooks. Forms of Prayer reshapes the meanings of the blessings by expanding upon and reworking the classical formulations, often keeping the opening and closing of the blessing intact; Mishkan Tefilah, in contrast, jettisons most of the traditional language in order to articulate requests, more fitting to its ideology. Both siddurim, despite their different liturgical strategies, are the Reform Movements' most Zionist to date. They are particularly focused on Israel, without negating the value of life in the Diaspora. They express a form of 'Liberal Religious Zionism' that calls for the moral growth rather than the physical repair of Israel. Both have taken a step back from their 1970s foregoers' embrace of the myth of Holocaust and Redemption; no longer completely confident of God's dominant hand in history, they express the need for human as well as divine agency in the betterment of the world. Both siddurim reflect values of individualism and spirituality; additional biblical allusions have been worked into the various blessings to expand their semantic possibilities, allowing any worshiper to configure them according to his or her own spiritual outlook.

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Jeffrey Newman

Rabbi Lionel Blue's extraordinary achievements and contributions to the post-war development of Anglo-Jewry are reviewed by means of personal reminiscences stretching back more than fifty years. It is suggested that they essentially derive from three personal characteristics - humour, humanity and humility - combined with a fierce intellectual passion and honesty that is sometimes overlooked. Key to Lionel's work and life was his personal relationship with God. Reference is made to the central role that his homosexuality played in his life, particularly in his work with those suffering from HIV Aids. Here he was a pioneer, as he was also as Britain's radio rabbi, the founder of the first Jewish-Muslim-Christian work, the new type of prayer book or the essential role of European Judaism.

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A Sectarian Rite Gone Mainstream and Cutting-Edge

The Blossoming of Forms of Prayer for Jewish Worship Volume I

Eric L. Friedland

At the outset of the Victorian Era the liturgy of the newly formed British Reform Judaism made its first appearance in Forms of Prayer. It was essentially a rather traditional, yet venturesome prayer book by the largely self-taught charismatic spiritual leader, David W. Marks, for a congregation made up of Anglicised Sephardic and Ashkenazic families, the West London Synagogue. Unique in prayer book reform, the new rite was marked by a deemphasis on the Rabbinic tradition and a move towards an enlightened biblicism. Thus it acquired a bit of a sectarian look. Over time this qualified scriptural reductionism gave way, in the 1920s and 30s, during the days of Rabbis Morris Joseph and Harold Reinhart, to an increased appreciation of Rabbinic law and teaching and, with the influx of Liberal rabbis from Continental Europe after the Second World War, to a recovery of a connectedness with all of world Jewry. A new generation of native-born rabbis (Lionel Blue and Jonathan Magonet) produced volumes of Forms of Prayer from 1977 onward for an entire movement that carried on the Marks legacy and the learned contributions of the postwar German rabbis, while simultaneously going in wholly fresh directions. Bringing the longest continuing Reform siddur into the twenty-first century have been the energetic joint efforts of clergy, scholars and laity under the multifaceted editorial guidance of Jonathan Magonet.