Ritual / liturgy archive

Here are some of the liturgies and prayers I’ve written. If you read any of the lifecycle event scripts, bear in mind that the script (however hard I may have worked to stitch it together) is only a script. My teacher Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (z”l / may his memory be a blessing) has compared Jewish liturgy to freeze-dried food; in order for our prayers to be nourishing and sustaining, we have to add heart and emotion in realtime. A ritual performed with kavanah (intention) and skill is powerful in a way that words on a page can’t quite capture.


Liturgies / haggadot / books

Selichot 5776
Poems and prayers for Selichot, designed to open the heart to teshuvah (repentance / return) before the Days of Awe. 2015.

Shiva liturgy
A printable liturgy for an evening shiva minyan in a house of mourning. 2014.

Days of Awe: The Velveteen Rabbi’s Machzor for the Yamim Nora’im
Featuring liturgy both classical and innovative; translations both faithful and creative; original artwork and photographs intended to stir the soul; teachings from Rabbis Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Burt Jacobson, Rami Shapiro, Hanna Tiferet Siegel, and many others; and powerful poetry by poets ranging from Yehuda Amichai to Marie Howe, David Lehman to Alicia Ostriker. With Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser. Pilot edition, Velveteen Rabbi Press, 2014; revision, 2015.

The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach
This haggadah blends traditional texts with contemporary poetry, liberation theology, and an eye toward social justice. Click over to the haggadah page to read all about it, to see what others have said about it, and to download the latest version. 2015.

A Haggadah for Tu BiShvat 2012
A seder celebrating the New Year of the Trees with a mystical journey through the “four worlds,” each symbolized by fruits and juices. New for 2012: check out the three versions (one for adults, one for kids one for little kids) on the VR blog.

Short Tu BiSeder 2011 [pdf]
A kitzur (short) haggadah for celebrating the New Year of the Trees: 3 pages, blessings for fruits interspersed with teachings from Jewish tradition and elsewhere, and a closing blessing thanking God for the delicious snacks! Designed for use with adolescents but suitable for all ages.

Digital Haggadah for Tu BiShvat 2016
A new digital haggadah – intended to be projected on a screen, to save trees – for Tu BiShvat. Features song, poetry, prayer, images, video, and more. Released in conjunction with ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.


Blessings / prayers

Kol Nidre
A poem inspired by the “Kol Nidre” prayer, meant to be read and/or prayed, alone and/or in community. 1998.

Hashkivenu
A variation on the hashkivenu blessing that’s part of the evening liturgy; written for erev Shabbat. 2001.

Birchot hashachar (Morning Blessings)
A poem cycle based on some of the morning blessings and prayers. 2004. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Al Chet Shechatati L’fanecha
A personal “Al Chet” — written in first person singular — designed for home or synagogue use. 2007. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Hineni: Here I Stand
A prayer/poem which presents the themes and ideas of the “Hineni” prayer, traditionally chanted by the prayer-leader on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in my own words and metaphors. 2008. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Petition
A prayer for selichot, the service of teshuvah-themed prayers held on the evening of the Shabbat preceding Rosh Hashanah. 2009. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Geshem
A creative / interpretive prayer for rain, modeled after the classical tefilat geshem recited on Shemini Atzeret. 2009. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Six poems of praise (Hallel)
A series of six poems which render the psalms of Hallel (recited on festivals) in a creative, contemporary, and personal way. 2011. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

A prayer for Tashlich
A short prayer / responsive reading for Tashlich, the Rosh Hashanah ritual of casting bread upon the waters. 2012.

A Sukkot Prayer for the Bedouin
A prayer for Sukkot which touches on the situation of the Israeli Bedouin. Written for Rabbis for Human Rights, North America, 2012. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Prayer for the Children of Abraham / Ibrahim
A prayer for the people of Israel and Palestine. Written in response to the events surrounding Operation Pillar of Cloud. 2012. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

God, let me cry on Your shoulder
A prayer written in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, CT. 2012. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Daily miracles
A prayer/poem which serves as a variation on the birchot ha-shachar, the round-up of morning blessings. 2013. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Prayer After the Bombing
A prayer written in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. 2013. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Saturday afternoon request
A prayer for Shabbat afternoon. 2013. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Distinctions
A prayer for havdalah. 2013. Now published in Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda, 2016).

Vidui
A prayer before death. 2015.

A Pesach Prayer for the Earth. 2016.

Listen Up, Y’all
A poem that renders the second paragraph of the shema (v’haya im shamoa…) in contemporary language and imagery. 2016.

Prayer After the Election
First published in Kol ALEPH.  November 2016.


Lifecycle

Blessings for a B’nai Mitzvah
Written for Ritualwell’s #ReimagineBnaiMitzvah project, 2015. Two prayers for tying tzitzit before the celebration, and a trio of prayers (one for parent or caregiver, one for the student who is coming of age, and one for the rabbi or spiritual leader) to be used at the celebration itself.

The Naming of Andrew Wynn [pdf]
The babynaming/welcoming ceremony that Ethan and I wrote for our son. 2009.

Mincha Maariv Havdalah [pdf]
A siddur for Shabbat afternoon and evening worship, with havdalah; designed for use at a b’nei mitzvah celebration, but could also be used on an ordinary Shabbat afternoon and evening. Latest revision 2015.

Nondenominational funeral
The blog post about these two services features pdf files of both the memorial service and the graveside service. 2012.

Ritual for ending a marriage. 2016.