Just in time for the High Holy Days, Jewish Lights has published a timely collection of readings to give added meaning to the Yom Kippur prayers. The material has been selected by Dov Peretz Elkins, rabbi emeritus of the Jewish Center, Princeton, New Jersey and author of 35 books for Jewish group leaders.
Jews who rarely attend services often find their way to a synagogue on Yom Kippur, perceiving it to be the holiest day of the year. Their limited knowledge about the rituals and liturgy of the holiday w ill be greatly augmented by reading Yom Kippur Readings and even bringing it along with them to consult during the service. For regular worshipers, the book will add to their appreciation of familiar prayers.
The selections have been arranged into 15 sections, generally coinciding with a part of the service. Each section is prefaced by an appropriate quotation from Arthur Greenâ€™s book, These Are the Words. The initial section, â€œFirst Reflections,â€ is an introduction to the holiday and its significance. Included are quotations from Debbie Friedman, Abraham Joshua Heschel and several rabbis. After this, the book follows the order of prayer, beginning with Kol Nidre and ending with Neâ€™ila, the closing of the gates. In between are sections on the Al Het, the confessional; the Shema, Hear O Israel; Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father, Our King; the Torah reading; Teshuva,Tefilla, Tzedaka, repentance, prayer and acts of righteousness; Vechol Maâ€™aminim, All Believe; Yizkor; Martyrology; Avoda, Service; Jonah.
There is also an interesting section on Yom Kippur customs such as what to wear, and fasting. Included in this section are comments on other prayers such as: Hayom, Today; Aleinu; Sim Shalom , Prayer for Peace; Yaâ€™aleh, Let Us Rise.
While most of the quotations are from rabbis, others come from a variety of sources including Marion Wright, Edelman, Albert Einstein, Sholem Aleichem, S.Y. Agnon, Martin Buber, Leo Tolstoy, Maimonides, the Bible, Midrash, Talmud and hassidic stories. The editor himself appears most frequently with his contributions sometimes attributed to â€œD.P.E.â€ and sometimes to â€œRabbi Dov Peretz Elkins.â€
Use of this handy anthology will enhance Yom Kippur worship regardless of whether we are confused by the rituals and prayers or know them well. Observance of this crucial day in the Jewish calendar will be enriched for all Jews by use of this collection of helpful readings.
The writer is the founding dean of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University and Dean Emeritus, School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.â€ºâ€º