28 julio 2009

Union Prayer Book


Aquí puedes ver una copia digitalizada del UPB 1892






Y aquí la información sobre la última edición por ahora, editada por Chicago Sinai Congregation. De esta edición ya hablamos en un post anterior


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The Union Prayerbook, first published a century ago, has perhaps more than any other American Jewish liturgical work defined—for many—the essence of Reform Judaism.

"The Union Prayerbook was the first successful attempt by Jews in America to create a joint liturgical statement of Jewish identity that transcended congregational boundaries," said Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, professor of liturgy at New York's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

The prayerbook "stated the essence of liberal Judaism," Hoffman said.

Rising to the heights of eloquence, the prayerbook had a register and cadence that rivaled the best examples of Protestant liturgy, offering a progressive view of God and the world with passages like this one:

"Grant us peace, Thy most precious gift, O Thou eternal source of peace, and enable Israel to be a messenger of peace unto the peoples of the earth."

For Rabbi Joseph Gitin, who was ordained in 1932, the Union Prayerbook captured a sense of holiness.

"It had beautiful prayers, and we loved it," said Gitin, rabbi emeritus of Temple Emanu-El in San Jose. "It was very poetic."

But Gitin added that the Union Prayerbook had another quality in its favor: brevity. Services in the book were noticeably shorter than those found in its successor, which is titled Gates of Prayer.

"Even God would like a short prayer," said Gitin, who retired from the pulpit 20 years ago.

Regardless of its retirement, the old Union Prayerbook will always represent an important piece of Jewish history—a merger of Jewish tradition and the new American milieu.

"It was modeled after upper-class English religion as they saw it when [19th-century Jews] came here, an affirmation of high European, Western culture," said Hoffman.

The prayerbook's authors "had to fight a battle for…being modern," he says. "They had to say, `We have a right to use English and pray in the vernacular.'"

By the 1890s, German Jews emphasized what is now called classical Reform to distinguish themselves from Eastern European Jews, Hoffman said.

The prayerbook unified American Reform Jews across the continent, who could expect to find the familiar blue or black volume in synagogue pews wherever they traveled or moved.

In fact, New York's Temple Emanu-El and the Chicago Sinai Congregation continue to use the old prayerbook, while Philadelphia's Rodeph Shalom features it in an annual nostalgia service.

Older Reform Jews every so often still long for their familiar companion, which lies permanently packed away.

"Occasionally, individuals…ex-press a sense of nostalgia and a sense of loss ," Broude said.

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