Avinu Malkeinu


Tisha B‘Av marked a turning point in our preparations towards the High Holy Days. The days of rebuke and warning are replaced by those of comfort and love. God is not only the judge, assessing our short comings, but also the parent, helping us to grow and to overcome fear and hopelessness. The following prayer encourages us to open ourselves to those important aspects of God, to invite God into our lives, as a source of strength and love:

On the night of return, let us find the humility to come close to You, and open ourselves to Your presence. For You are absent only when we fail to make room for You in our hearts; distant, only when we turn away from You. Now, as others have done before us, let us overcome doubt and speak these words of affirmation:

 Avinu Malkeinu

We call YouAvinu — as loving Parent, forgive our wrongs and failings; accept us in our human frailty.

We call YouMalkeinu — as Sovereign of our souls, help us rise from our brokenness to build a world of shalom. To this vision we offer ourselves anew.

 Shabbat Shalom—Rabbi Adrian M Schell

 Quote: Mishkan HaNefesh: Rosh Hashanah: Machzor for the Days of Awe (Page 74).



Let there be light

This week, South Africa celebrated Mandela Day in honour of a man who undoubtly was a light for this nation, and also a light to the nations. Our Jewish tradition teaches us that striving for justice and equality is the foundation for tikun olam, but also that we have to open our hearts and souls for any other person to contribute to a world redeemed.

The smiling children I saw on the many pictures taken last Sunday made me grateful, witnessing that little deeds can bring happiness into this world. Thank you to all of you who supported, contributed and helped to create a special day for those children.

Perhaps the following quote from our new Machzor mirrors best this holy bond between our actions and the betterment of the world we live in:

The first mitzvah in the Torah is “Let there be light!”

So, we are commanded:
In everything you do, be a menorah, a bringer of light. Live with honour, act with integrity, do your work with passion — and the radiance of your deeds will live after you.

May our ideals burn bright, forever unextinguished, and may we live our lives like the flames we kindle — always stretching upward, striving for the good, reaching for You.

May God‘s light shine upon you and grant you peace –

Shabbat Shalom—Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Quote: Mishkan HaNefesh: Rosh Hashanah: Machzor for the Days of Awe (Page 11).

To make life easier for you, we will sell the new High Holy Day prayer book every Friday before services. The price per set is R700. Please note that we can only accept cash payments. Learn more about our new High Holy Day prayer book and how you can order your personal set at: www.betdavid.org.za/mishkan/




We loved.
And we wept.
We were kind—
and spoke thoughtfully.
We were faithful and trusting.
We put forth effort.
We were mindful.
We embraced.
We took delight in the holy books.
We were creative.
And we yearned.
We fought for justice—
and searched out the good.
We tried our best.
And we were attentive.
We did what You commanded us to do.
We found meaning in Torah.
And, most of the time, we did what is right. We proclaimed Your name.
And we were accepting.
We were joyful.
And we cared.

This wonderful poem from our new Machzor invites us to acknowledge the good in us. May this wisdom serve us as a source of strength where we feel weak, where we need to improve, or where we might have failed on our journey towards Rosh HaShanah.

Shabbat Shalom—Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Quote: Mishkan HaNefesh: Yom Kippur: Machzor for the Days of Awe (Page 659)

Mishkan ha Nefesh: A dwelling place for our souls


This is not the first time, I have mentioned it, but I think it is still exciting news. Together with our sister congregations in South Africa we will embark on a new spiritual journey, introducing a new prayer book for the High Holy Days: Mishkan HaNefesh. The new Machzor will be a valuable tool for innovation in our Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur experiences. The language in the books is modern and accessible, with gender neutral wording and all Hebrew prayers available in transliteration.  There are inspired alternative options, a variety of study commentaries throughout the book, Torah reading options, and some magnificent new prayer alternatives. We are going to use the new Machzorim for the first time on Rosh HaShanah 2018.

Why do we need a new machzor? Why should we switch to Mishkan HaNefesh?

Our current Machzor, Gates of Repentance, has served Bet David well for many years. When it was first published in 1978, it represented exciting and progressive liturgical innovation. However, time has changed and we have changed. The fact that it does not include transliteration is a stumbling block for many in our communities. So too, many of today’s Jews feel disconnected from prayer and from theological and ideological concepts that do not seem consistent with a contemporary sensibility. Like Mishkan Tfilah, our Shabbat prayer book, Mishkan HaNefesh makes strides towards a multi-vocality that creates a space for all to inhabit, offering a multiplicity of different approaches. Through updated translations, elucidating essays, rich commentary, and a beautiful selection of poetry, Mishkan HaNefesh provides an environment for those of all backgrounds to find meaning in the High Holy Days.

Mishkan HaNefesh gives both the prayer leader and the community a wealth of resources for finding new and old meaning for the High Holy Days and to match the requirements for today‘s services. Mishkan HaNefesh breathes new life into High Holy Day services and forms a meaningful bridge to our Shabbat liturgy we love at Bet David.

How do you get your copy?

The new two volume Machzor can be bought from the offices from March 2018 on, but we are happy to offer you a pre-order option to save your copies already now, with a early bird discount. The regular set (one set includes the Machzorim for RoshHaShanah and Yom Kippur) price is R700. If you order your set(s) before 31 December and pay it by the end of 2017, we can offer you a special pre-order price of R600 per set. The other option we can offer you is to order now and pay them off in several installments for the regular price. Please use the order form (Mishkan HaNefesh Information Letter).

With your support, we will be able to make this important change in the worship life of our congregation. If you have questions regarding the new Machzor, please don‘t hesitate to contact me or any members of the ManCom.

 Rabbi Adrian M Schell