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Jewish Prayer Book Is a Pioneering Effort

March 25, 1989|From Religious News Service

The Reconstructionist movement of Judaism is publishing a new prayer book that is believed to be the first for Jews that uses gender-neutral terms to refer to God.

Titled "Kol Hanesamah" ("Voice of the Soul"), the volume is a pioneering effort in other respects. It adds the Jewish matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah to the list of patriarchs traditionally cited in the Amidah prayer and is believed to be the first Jewish prayer book that was edited by both men and women, rabbis and lay people.

"Reconstructionists are religious believers, but in a special way," said Rabbi Arthur Green of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pa., one of the editors of the volume. "We address prayer to God in mostly the same language as do other religious Jews. But we are no naive believers: We do not think of God as the super-person who rules the world, rewards and punishes and reveals his will to the Jewish people alone."

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