Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim

Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim by the Reconstructionist Press

A prayerbook, fairly effectively organized. Covers the main layout of blessings pretty well, organized effectively. In particular, shines at the range of commentary and reading provided, both in micro-snippets attached to Hebrew blessings and in more extensive standalones. Good selection of insights that draws on poems, exegesis and literature effectively, making for a good basis for both regular and holiday services, and especially wide-ranging browsing by those looking to read something slightly new along with the main services.

I have only two minor quibbles. First, it does seem to overuse Abraham Joshua Heschell as a source--while he produced a lot of interesting reflections and quotes, it does seem that after a point it could have benefited from substituting with some with a different and perhaps more unique source. Second, there are elements about it's commitment to both Israeli and American nationalism I found troubling, seeming to go for a more simplistic interpretation of the type of ethical patriotism than the wider situation necessarily warrants. Representing full complexities is always going to be different for this type of mass production--not to mention the challenges of getting an agreement by a larger committee--but I still think critical commentary could have gone a bit further in challenging norms in this regard, much as it does elsewhere with God and religion. Still, overall an effective text that does the Reconstructionist movement proud.

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