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Liturgy & Prayer

Come Swing with Me Come Swing with Me
Friday, May 31, 2013 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the last of our highlights, Aryeh Tepper introduces the jazz-fueled piyyut of the New Jerusalem Orchestra; first published June 17, 2010.  Rejoin us on Monday for Mosaic's inaugural essay: Leon Kass on the Ten Commandments. 
Rousseau, Melody, and Mode Rousseau, Melody, and Mode
Friday, May 17, 2013 by Ben Elton | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Though best remembered today for his political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was also a careful student of music.  But his conclusions are undermined by the liturgical music of Ashkenazi Jews.
The Voice That Speaks in My Soul The Voice That Speaks in My Soul
Friday, March 8, 2013 by Susan Taubes | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Echoing Kafka in this 1949 letter of protest to a domineering male, Susan Taubes writes: "I can no more keep to the laws of the Bible than I can cross myself or take the sacrament."
Judaism and the Meaning of Life Judaism and the Meaning of Life
Friday, March 1, 2013 by Emil Fackenheim | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Emil Fackenheim is often remembered only for his Holocaust theology.  This 1965 Commentary essay reminds us of his understanding of the covenantal relationship between God and man.
<i>Shabbat Shirah</i>: Song Takes Wing Shabbat Shirah: Song Takes Wing
Monday, January 21, 2013 by Jerry Friedman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Complementing the Song of the Sea, which will be read this Shabbat in synagogue, the Rabbis suggested a home-based ritual to celebrate Shabbat Shirah: feeding the birds.
The Most Influential Jewish Philosopher You Never Heard Of The Most Influential Jewish Philosopher You Never Heard Of
Monday, November 12, 2012 by Diane Cole | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Adapt or die: this principle now permeates discussions among not just biologists but anthropologists, sociologists, and even theologians seeking the origins of religion in an evolutionary need for group survival.  
Happy Yom Kippur to You? Happy Yom Kippur to You?
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 by Shlomo M. Brody | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"Happy" is certainly not the first word that comes to mind for most of us when we describe our Yom Kippur experience.  After all, the Torah commands us to afflict ourselves on this day (Leviticus 23:26-31).
Steal This Siddur Steal This Siddur
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

If anyone might be poised to understand how a project of decentralized authority and radically distributive ownership could operate in a market-based economy, it would be the treasurer of a kibbutz.
America’s Holy Haunted Houses America’s Holy Haunted Houses
Monday, October 31, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Halloween is most certainly no Jewish holiday; yet its spooky mood is curiously congruent with the ambience that overcomes American synagogues this time of year.
All These Vows All These Vows
Friday, October 7, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

No one knows for sure how Kol Nidrei originated. It is by far the best-known Yom Kippur prayer, but in fact it is neither a prayer nor actually recited on Yom Kippur. Rabbis have never liked it.
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Editors' Picks
Hiding before God Jonathan Sacks, Algemeiner. "The tallit [prayer shawl] hides the person we are and represents the person we would like to be, because in prayer we ask God to judge us, not for what we are, but for what we wish to be."
Restoring the Grand Gesture Naftali Brawer, Jewish Chronicle. Whatever happened to the worship of God through a spontaneous outpouring of the soul?
Another Brick in the Wall Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post. Natan Sharansky's proposal to open Robinson's Arch for egalitarian prayer is an elegant compromise—provided that the site's historical integrity is maintained.
Still, Small Voice Rick Jacobs, Jewish Week. "Rationalists, such as Maimonides, and mystical poets, such as Judah Halevi, agree that at the end of the journey there is silence—that silence is the ultimate connection." (Interview by Alfredo Borodowski)
The Dude Still Abides Ashley Fetters, Atlantic. In the 15 years since the release of The Big Lebowski, the Coen brothers' comedy has not only become a cult classic but spawned an actual cult—inspired by kabbalah.
Jews Crossing Fred MacDowell, On the Main Line. A 17th-century Sephardic prayer book contains instructions for making "a Jewish sign of the cross" to ward off fear.  Was it intended to wean Conversos off Christian ritual?
Redemption of the First Shorn Philologos, Forward. What’s the grammatical difference between upsheren and upsherenish?  It’s the difference between an ordinary haircut and an offering to the Lord.
The Purpose of Prayer Yakov Danishefsky, Kol Hamevaser. Jews are commanded to worship God.  But do we pray for God's sake, for our own—or both?
Sending An Emissary to God Dovi Nadel, Kol Hamevaser. The role of sheliah tzibbur (messenger of the congregation) as a prayer leader, is as old as the synagogue.  But the term goes back further still—and is applied to God Himself.
Cue the Organ Benjamin Ivry, Forward. Once, churches forbade organs because they recalled Jewish Temple music in Jerusalem.  Later, the Haskalah re-introduced the organ to synagogues—partly to drown out the cantor.