A New Rite from Israel: Reflections on <i>Siddur Va'ani Tefillati</i> of the Masorati (Conservative) Movement

David Ellenson

in Studies in Contemporary Jewry an Annual XV 1999

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780195134681
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848652 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Contemporary Jewry

A New Rite from Israel: Reflections on Siddur Va'ani Tefillati of the Masorati (Conservative) Movement

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The siddur and the ritual performance that has accompanied its communal recitation have long occupied a central role in Jewish life. As the classical repository of Jewish memory and faith, the siddur is in a profound sense a conservative document. For nearly two millennia, the basic form and content of Jewish prayer has remained remarkably consistent. With the advent of modern Jewish religious denominationalism in 19th-century Germany, the production of new siddurimexploded. In 1998, the masorati movement published its long-awaited prayer book, Va'ani Tefillati, the first Conservative siddur written in Israel. The sensibility that marks the pages of Va'ani Tefillati is unmistakably Conservative. Like Sim Shalom and other Conservative prayer books written earlier in the century, Va'ani Tefillati decisively affirms tradition. At the same time, it countenances change in a manner that has marked other Conservative siddurim. Thus, an analysis of the contents and form that mark Va'ani Tefillati grants insight into the nature of Conservative Judaism as a distinct Jewish denomination. Even among Conservative prayer books, the Va'ani Tefillati liturgy is singular, for its Israeli context informs its substance and shapes its message in a manner that distinguishes it from a rite produced in the diaspora. This chapter documents many of the specific directions and commitments that mark the still nascent masorati movement, and charts one dimension of the path on which Judaism has embarked as it seeks old-new expressions in its ancient home.

Keywords: Judaism; Jews; siddur; Conservative prayer book; masorati movement; Va'ani Tefillati

Chapter.  10093 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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