Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
The Schmooze

Conservative Machzor Makes Room for Gay Jews

“His/her death left me with a legacy of unhealed wounds, of anger and dismay.”

This emotional phrase describes a “parent who was hurtful.” Now it appears in a groundbreaking new High Holidays machzor whose prayers aim to include lesbian and gay Jews, for whom the words might carry even more of an emotional charge. The New York Times reported on the book last week.

Along with modernized translations, simplified transliterations and more gender-neutral language, the machzor includes a reworked Yizkor — the Yom Kippur memorial for dead relatives — that for the first time include a prayer for a deceased “partner.”

What’s surprising is that the book didn’t emerge from big-tent Reform or Reconstructionist Judaism, but from the Conservative movement. According to the Times, the book — called “Lev Shalem”, or “whole heart” — represents the movement’s first updating of the machzor in 40 years.

Objections to the new books have arisen, but they’re not focused on gay-inclusive language, according to the Times; instead, some congregants have taken issue with the deletion of lines from traditional prayers, like a phrase about “asking God to avenge Jewish blood” in Avinu Malkeinu.

So far, 120,000 machzors have been ordered by 125 of the 850 Conservative congregations worldwide, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, told the Times. The book can also be bought on Amazon.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected]d.com, subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.