From the Ritual Committee
I’m writing this the week of my father’s yahrzeit. My father, Jacob Miller z’l, came to this country from Lithuania where he had been the principal of a Jewish high school. When he came to this country, he was employed as a Hebrew school teacher. He loved teaching and he loved Judaism; his goal was always to share that love with his students. In an interview in a local Jewish newspaper, he stated that American Jews had their Judaism grafted on. His experience in Europe was that of being surrounded by Jews and Judaism where everybody (including women) knew the Lashon HaKodesh/Holy Language (Hebrew) as well as the order of tefillah/prayers. He made it his mission to share what he knew with his students, family members, friends, and interested Christian clergy. His Judaism was clearly not merely grafted on, it was who he was.
In that same newspaper interview, my father described the siddur as “a dear friend.” His point was that it was not only for use at specific service times, but that there was much in it that was useful in daily life. Now, understand, his siddur was all in Hebrew and had none of the translations or explanations and readings in the margin that Siddur Lev Shalem has. We have the benefit of a siddur that is full of amazing information, prayers, poetry, readings, explanations, and more.
Most of us now have the benefit of having our own copy, either book or PDF format. We don’t need to wait for a service to mine the richness it contains. Open it, check it out, see what is in there that you might not have noticed. See what speaks to you. Don’t wait for a Shabbat service to see what it contains.
On Shemini Atzeret, I stated that the service is not the sole property of the Rabbi, or the ShaliachTzibur or Sh’lichat Tzibur/Service Leader. It is not the property of the Gabbaim/Persons assisting with the Torah Service, or the Ba’al Kriah/Torah Reader, or the Ritual Committee, or the Board of Directors. The service belongs to all of us (even if we can’t hear everyone together). We respond, we read, we take turns leading particular parts of the service. You don’t have to be on a committee to take a role in leading a song or a chant or a particular prayer/blessing. You don’t have to wait for High Holy Days or Sisterhood Shabbat to do this. You see people who lead various parts of the service, that doesn’t mean that others can’t do that too. It does require the ability to read English and/or Hebrew and to feel comfortable with a particular chant or tune. There are people who can help mentor you. Think about it. Try something new during this new year. Feel free to contact email@example.com to volunteer and to ask for assistance.
Remember, we really are all in this together.
Offered by Esther Miller on behalf of the Ritual Committee: Adrienne Frager, Arnie Blaustein, Norm Ament, Jerry Newman, Janet Korba, Marcie Levenstein, Rabbi Pinsker