Two years ago, our congregation did something very unusual. We held a Yom Kippur morning service in April. Our purpose was to experience a draft of the service that had been created for a new High Holy Day prayer book for the Reform movement.
That was our first introduction to Mishkan HaNefesh (the “Sanctuary of the Soul”). The response of the forty people in attendance was overwhelmingly favorable. Their positive comments were reflected in the evaluations they filled-out immediately following the “Yom Kippur in April” service.
I shared a summary of their evaluations with the editors of Mishkan HaNefesh. In my cover letter, I wrote:
I was thrilled with this new service. I had not piloted any of the previous services from Mishkan HaNefesh, and I am thoroughly convinced that the language, poetry, interpretations, and theological dimensions contained in this new machzor will inspire my congregation.
I am committed to moving our congregation forward in acquiring Mishkan HaNefesh so we can be uplifted by its splendor come Rosh Hashanah 5776.
Fortunately, members of our Worship Committee, as well as our Board of Directors, shared my enthusiasm for Mishkan HaNefesh. Last winter we committed to acquiring the new machzor with the expectation that it would be available by the fall for our upcoming High Holy Days.
As a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the organization creating and publishing Mishkan HaNefesh, I had the opportunity to receive an advance copy of the machzor. Lo’ and behold, it arrived Wednesday. It was with great anticipation that I opened the envelope and with even greater pleasure I held in my hands the two-volume set of this brand new High Holy Day prayer book.
In the months ahead, it will take effort and discernment to determine the scope of the prayers, readings, and songs that will be selected from Mishkan HaNefesh to include for our High Holy Day services in 5776. However, believe me, I am happily willing to devote myself to this task, for I fully believe that this new machzor will uplift us and inspire us for our next Days of Awe.