Praying Differently & Together

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As promised, here is the complete text of Sarah Margles’ speech about the Prayer for the State of Israel (mentioned in my earlier blog post), delivered at Altshul last Shabbat.

Altshul – Shabbat Metzora – Saturday, April 12, 2008
A talk about our process regarding the Prayer for the State of Israel, By Sarah Margles

Two of our community’s most cherished values are that we are deeply rooted in Jewish tradition as handed down to us from our ancestors, and that we are deeply committed to practicing our Jewish values in ways that resonate with the realities of contemporary life. As individuals, we navigate this road in our daily lives. When we come together as a community, sometimes this navigation is more complicated.

What does it mean to be a community that lives by its values – particularly when members of the community hold differing views about how to do that? As many of you know, our community has been in a process about the Prayer for the State of Israel. In response to a concern raised in a community meeting in the fall, we have been in community dialogue. This process has surfaced a particular way that these two values are seen by some as being in tension. We are committed both to the importance of Israel in our Jewish lives and to a diversity of religious and political opinion in relation to Israel.

There are many prayers for the State of Israel. The one that we have been using was first published by the Chief Rabbi of Israel in 1948 as a statement of Religious Zionism. As such, different Jewish communities have responded to it differently: Some have included it fully; some have included a modified version; and some have chosen to not incorporate it into their tfillot. In terms of tradition, this prayer holds a place very different to almost every other part of our tfilla service. There are no halachic implications to adoption or adaptation of the tfilla. Because of this, there was particular leniency and therefore flexibility to the community conversation.

Posted on April 15, 2008

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