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My Reform congregation is currently considering buying the forthcoming Mishkan Hanefesh machzor. I've reviewed (and led services from) drafts of this publication and, while it is an improvement over what we are using now (the previous CCAR publication), I hope to do better. The new machzor has many flaws (most notably, important omissions) and I'd rather we not buy this one. I would like to find a different machzor to propose buying instead, one that's less far afield of the traditional content.

My congregation's requirements1 are:

  • Nusach Ashkenaz
  • Hebrew with English translations
  • Transliteration for (at least) everything said by the congregation, because not everybody is able to read Hebrew at speed; transliteration should be near the Hebrew, not in a section in the back of the book
  • "Gender-sensitive" language, meaning it avoids casting God as "he" (our current siddur does this and people expect it)
  • Volumes are not overly heavy, because we've gotten some complaints about heavy books from elderly congregants (multi-volume is fine)
  • Not overly-small print (i.e. we can't address the previous point by getting travel editions because some of those people also don't see well)

1 Please don't interpret these as my requirements. This is not what I would seek for my own use, but I'm trying to help a congregation improve on what it's doing now.

My own desire, as implied above, is that the machzor have traditional liturgy for the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services. (We don't need to cover weekdays during the yamim nora'im; our regular siddur has those inserts. And we don't need it to include s'lichot.)

I have heard that the Conservative movement has a relatively new machzor that might fit the bill, but I don't know anything about it (not even a name). I assume that among its vast body of work Artscroll has transliterated machzorim, though probably not with the gender-sensitive language members of my congregation seek.

What machzor, if any, can I propose to my congregation given these requirements?

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The siddur of which your friend was talking about is most likely the Conservative Assembly's new Siddur Lev Shalem. For the longest time, Conservative synagogues have used the Siddur Sim Shalom, but they decided to switch. This new siddur has gender neutral language and they have a high holiday version for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as well.

  • Mahzor Lev Shalem is (mostly) easy-to-follow. Transliterated sections in a red/brown typeface accompany the sections when the congregation responds or says aloud (Shema, Kedushah, Ashamnu, plenty of others). It does not leave out much, having Selihot, all four Rosh Hashannah services and all six for Yom Kippur, the Torah readings and haftorot. See chart here for contents. It also has extensive side commentaries from a variety of sources if people's mind's wander... – Mike Supports Monica Dec 2 '14 at 0:02
  • I think this will float your boat, assuming that your reform congregation does not share the traditional reform objections to me-hayay matim and the like. – bimargulies Dec 2 '14 at 0:04
  • @Mike six for Yom Kippur? – Daniel Dec 2 '14 at 1:28
  • @Daniel Maariv, Shacharit, Musaf, Minhah, Neilah, Yizkor. Maybe I shouldn't have counted Yizkor... – Mike Supports Monica Dec 2 '14 at 3:46
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Artscroll publishes a Transliterated Machzor, which sounds like it might work for you:

Rosh Hashanah

Yom Kippur

The only requirement that I'm not certain it fits is the "Gender Sensitivity", but it's possible it does. The excerpt page on their website doesn't show any "Gender Specific" language, and I don't have a Machzor in front of me for a more thorough search.

  • Just had a look myself. Of course you can't get from them a sefardic pronunciation and nobody I know pronounces the kametz gadol 'o', although in American accent its more like a longated 'a' than in English. I could only see Kol Nidre which is a declaration not a prayer and better said in English than Aramaic actually if that's what you understand, as with any other declarations like Eruv Tavshilin. – CashCow Dec 2 '14 at 12:31

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