A handbook for the High Holy Days

Jewish Lights has published a timely collection of readings to give added meaning to Yom Kippur prayers.

yom kippur book (photo credit: )
yom kippur book
(photo credit: )
Yom Kippur Readings Edited by Dov Peretz Elkins Jewish Lights 368pp., $24.99 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 of Princeton, New Jersey and author of 35 books for Jewish group leaders. Even Jews who rarely attend services find their way to a synagogue on Yom Kippur, believing it to be the holiest day of the year. Their limited knowledge about the rituals and liturgy of the holiday will be greatly augmented by this book. 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 Green's book, These Are the Words. The initial section, "First Reflections," 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 Ne'ila, the closing of the gates. In between are sections on the Al Het, the confessional; the Shema, "Hear, O Israel"; Avinu Malkenu, "Our Father, Our King"; the Torah reading; T'shuvah,T'fillah, Tzedakkah, "Repentance, Prayer and Acts of Righteousness"; Ve-khol Ma'aminim, "All Believe"; Yizkor, "Martyrology"; Avodah, "Service"; and Jonah. There is also an interesting section on Yom Kippur customs, such as what to wear and how to fast. Included in this section are comments on other prayers such as: Hayom, "Today"; Aleinu; Sim Shalom, "Prayer for Peace"; Ya'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, Shalom 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 "D.P.E." and sometimes to "Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins." Use of this handy anthology will enhance our 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.