Prayers you can say when times get tough

By Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, October 15, 2009

The problem with Jewish prayer books is that they are full of the statutory prayers, such as the Amidah and Alenu. To be fair, that is their job. But most Jews come to synagogue with other matters weighing on their minds, whether business, family or health issues. It is to fill this vacuum that a book of specially-written prayers has been produced by the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK to cover specific everyday situations from miscarriage to bankruptcy, insomnia to retirement, suicide attempt to drug addiction. They offer words to say when you don’t know what to say, or pray.


Why it’s a disgrace if you don’t say Grace

By Rabbi Pete Tobias, July 2, 2009

When you have eaten and are satisfied, then you shall praise the Eternal One, your God, for the good land you have been given” (Deuteronomy 8:10). This is the biblical instruction on which is based the obligation to give thanks after a meal.

Jewish tradition has developed numerous variations on the blessings to be said, based on the type of food eaten, the number of people who have eaten it and the context in which it has been eaten. That same tradition even ascribes authorship of the different blessings to Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon and Rabban Gamliel.


Why we bless the sun

By Rabbi David Hulbert, March 26, 2009

Why is this year’s erev Pesach different from all others? Because this year, Wednesday April 8, will be the day on which Jews have the rare opportunity to recite the prayers of the service of blessing the sun, or, rather, the prayers by which we bless the Creator of the sun.


A prayer mystery: who started Kaddish?

By Simon Rocker, January 29, 2009

The mourners’ Kaddish is one of Judaism’s most familiar prayers. But where did the custom to recite it originate? It is a question that has intrigued one of the guests at next month’s Jewish Book Week, Leon Charney, author of The Mystery of the Kaddish. Charney, 67, is one of those men of many parts with a book-length CV. He studied Bible and Talmud at Yeshiva University, New York before financing himself through law school by singing in synagogue — he still has a fine chazan’s voice.


The Siddur That Saved A Life

November 7, 2008

The real sermons in life, those which have the greatest impact, are not those which are delivered from the lofty tower of a pulpit to a congregation who are, for the most part, disinclined to be influenced by what they hear.

The effective sermons are those that take us unawares, sideways, without our realizing that we are listening to something that will change our lives.


An Orthodox woman can lead the prayers

By Nathan Jeffay, November 6, 2008

Two Israeli scholars have put their necks on the line to try to answer one of the most controversial questions in Orthodox Judaism today: what role can women take in public worship?

In the last decade, around two dozen "partnership minyanim" have been founded in Israel and the USA. These congregations have tried to pioneer services that increase women's participation, while operating within the parameters of Orthodox religious law. But they have faced two major problems.


Should we pray for rain?

By Rabbi Ariel Abel, October 17, 2008

According to a recent report from Nasa scientists, if current rainy weather patterns continue, we could face worldwide food shortages as a result of widespread ruin of crops. Where does this leave our prayers this year for wind and rain?

The latter half of Succot focuses on water, parties thrown in honour of the festival are called "Water-drawing Simchah" (Simchat Beit Hashoevah) to commemorate water libations in Temple times and the last day of Succot, Hoshana Rabba, is dubbed "Day of Judgment for Water".


Say a prayer before you fly

By Elisheva Katanka, July 25, 2008

Airport prayer rooms can help bring together people of different faiths

A rabbi and an Israeli bus-driver go to heaven. The bus-driver is let in first, but when the rabbi protests, an angel proclaims: "When you used to speak from the pulpit, you put congregants to sleep, but on the bus, everyone prayed!"


The slimline siddur with a touch of Bob Dylan

By Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, July 4, 2008

The new gender-inclusive Reform siddur is both ‘more traditional and more creative’, with some radical new material

Forms of Prayer
Edited by Jonathan Magonet, The Movement for Reform Judaism, £24.95 (pocket £9.95)