Galgal ha-machzor

The Rabbinical Assembly continues to be liturgenic.

Before Yom Kippur I got a look at a PDF (uncorrected, not for distribution, highly radioactive, not proofread, and under the strictness of Conservative cherems. Also available here) of the new RA High Holiday machzor, scheduled for publication in May, 2010.

Readers of this blog (hi, Dad) might know that I have bitched and moaned in the past about the Conservative machzor, vintage 1978, with its worst translation in the world and assorted theological missteps (confessing our sins against the victims of the Holocaust!).

Features of the new machzor, or at least what I saw of it, that I like:
  • Retaining (or reviving) the double-acrostic al-chet.
  • Revising and in many cases improving the English translations.
  • Including piyyutim (liturgical poetry) from a variety of locales and centuries, including some not familiar to me (your machzorage may vary).
  • A marginal commentary that is helpful but not in your face. It's not as scholarly (read: nerdy) as I would like, but I'm not sure that was their goal.
  • A great acrostic alternative to Avinu Malkenu.
Features I could do without:
  • Tortured & corny rationalizations for including the imahot in the Amidah. If you include them (I do), then do it, and include the option in the machzor. But vague yeasty talk about "listening to women's voices" won't move anyone anywhere but away from inclusion.
  • Keeping the silly English acrostic as a translation for the al-chet. It's still silly.
I'm looking forward to seeing the final version.


  1. There was, as a friend of mine said, a lot of "product placement" for the new machzor at this year's services.

    And I don't like the old one either, but--one minor correction--the original version of the old one came out in 1939 (and some of those are still floating around my congregation). 1978 only saw some minor updates.

  2. Hope you're having at least some little fun in Miami.

    Isn't it a relief to have an al het that doesn't include "useless conferences"?

    I haven't looked at the traditional Avinu Malkeinu line by line, but the penultimate line (the one before the Big Tune) seems to be missing.

    Our congregation uses the old Silverman with the unintelligible translation. There are several dozen A'scrolls on a table in the foyer for anyone who wants to juggle.

    I've been telling people that for a mere $50K everyone in the place could have one decent mahzor.

  3. Two or three years ago, I solved the Al Chet problem for myself by writing my own Al Chet, in the plural and in universal-sounding language, naming sins and slippages that were actually relevant to my own life. One might argue that it defeats the purpose of the original, as everyone is supposed to confess ALL of the sins, but my personal version is much more effective for inducing kavannah. And it's a big step up from confessing "useless conferences" in that appalling Holocaust Amidah.