Rosh Hashana Prayers Made Easy

by S. Olidort - BROOKLYN, NY

September 19, 2003

With the High Holy Days approaching, Jewish people the world over are preparing to come to shul and immerse themselves in prayer. For infrequent shul-goers, the elaborate Rosh Hashana services can be especially intimidating. The experience is not helped by the lack of user-friendly texts for participants unfamiliar with the High Holy Day liturgy.

A new, annotated edition of the Chabad-Lubavitch Machzor,or High Holy Days prayer book, released by the Kehot Publication Society, is designed with this population in mind.

Fifty years after the initial publication of the Chabad Machzor, the new edition follows a first English translation in 1982, with modern Hebrew typesetting to replace an old European printing. A year in the making, the new edition, which includes the prayers for Rosh Hashana, combines selected transliterations of prayers generally recited in Hebrew (like the mourner’s Kaddish), with clearly annotated instructions in Hebrew and English guiding the reader in the how-to’s of the services.

“With the growth of Chabad centers worldwide, the number of people using a Chabad prayer book during the High Holy Days increases yearly,” observes Rabbi Levi Friedman, of the editorial board. According to Kehot, demand for the new Machzor was so high it was sold out fresh off the press, and another printing is scheduled to fill orders in time for Rosh Hashana.

This is a time of year when many Jews make a concerted effort to participate in the Rosh Hashana services. “The Rosh Hashana prayers are lengthy, but each word is laden with layers of meaning," says Rabbi Friedman who worked with Rabbis Ari Sollish and Dovid Vaisfiche, consulting Hebrew language experts to enhance vocalization. “Our objective with this new edition is to facilitate a meaningful shul experience.”

Beinish Krieger of Cypress, CA, is thrilled about the new edition. “I was really excited when Rabbi Shmuel Marcus gave me a copy of the new Machzor. Its clear, easy- to-follow typeface follows the same style as the Siddur Tehillat Hashem Annotated edition, that was recently printed, and together these prayer books are really changing the way I approach my davening.”

Work on the Yom Kippur Annotated Machzor is now in full swing, and will be ready for Yom Kippur 5765/2004.

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