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We Have Sinned

Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet

Edited by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD

6 x 9, 304 pp, Hardcover
978-1-58023-612-6

                 

 

 

A varied and fascinating look at sin, confession and pardon in Judaism.

Through a series of lively introductions and commentaries, almost forty contributors—men and women, scholars, rabbis, theologians and poets, representing all Jewish denominations—examine the history of confession in Judaism, its roots in the Bible, its evolution in rabbinic and modern thought, and the very nature of confession for men and women today.

Featuring the traditional prayers—provided in the original Hebrew and a new and annotated translation—this third volume in the Prayers of Awe series explores the relevance of confession today in what is bound to be the most up-to-date, comprehensive and insightful reconsideration of sin and confession in Judaism.

Prayers of Awe

A multi-volume series designed to explore the High Holy Day liturgy and enrich the praying experience for everyone—whether experienced worshipers or guests who encounter Jewish prayer for the very first time.

Praise for Lawrence A. Hoffman’s Work

“Hoffman uncovers the depth of holiness and life affirmation.… In a seamless web, he weaves together past and present, ancient sacred scripture and contemporary spiritual reflection.”

Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, president, the Jewish Life Network; author, The Jewish Way

“When the glorious history of American synagogues in the twenty-first century is written, there is no doubt that Hoffman will be acknowledged as one of the primary architects of its transformation, revitalization and health.”

Rabbi Daniel Freelander, vice president, Union for Reform Judaism

“Offers great wisdom about the way religious rituals can help people make sense of their lives.”

Rev. Ruth Duck, associate professor, Worship Art, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

“Rabbi Hoffman’s book will enrich your soul.”

Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles; author, Why Be Jewish?

“Hoffman’s precision … [is] evident…. Worth reading … meticulous.”

Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

“If the quality of [this] … work is continued in future ones, Hoffman has another award-winning series on his hands…. Excellent.”

Reporter (Binghamton, NY)

“Lawrence Hoffman shows us how, by understanding the dynamic between a person and God and among people gathered for prayer, the length of our communal reach can exceed the sum of our individual efforts. In doing so, he helps us discover our collective heart.”

Rabbi Jack Moline, Agudas Achim Congregation, Alexandria, Virginia

Rabbi Tony Bayfield, CBE, DD (Lambeth), is president of the Movement for Reform Judaism in the United Kingdom. He teaches personal theology at the Leo Baeck College in London. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Will Berkovitz is the senior vice president of Repair the World, a national organization that seeks to make service a defining element of American Jewish life.

Dr. Annette M. Boeckleris senior librarian and lecturer for Jewish biblical interpretation and Jewish liturgy at Leo Baeck College in London. She has a PhD in Bible and studied chazanut, both privately (with cantor Marcel Lang, z”l, and cantor Jeremy Burko) and at the Levisson Instituut in Amsterdam. She contributed to All These Vows—Kol Nidre (Jewish Lights). Rabbi Dalia Marx, PhD, is a professor of liturgy and midrash at the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and teaches in various academic institutions in Israel, the United States, and Europe.

Dr. Marc Zvi Brettler is the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis University and has published and lectured widely on metaphor and the Bible, the nature of biblical historical texts, and gender issues and the Bible. He contributed to all volumes of the My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and to My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries, Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef, and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (all Jewish Lights). He is coeditor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament and The Jewish Study Bible, which won the National Jewish Book Award; and author of How to Read the Jewish Bible, among other books and articles. He has also been interviewed on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air by Terry Gross.

Dr. Erica Brown is a writer and an educator who works as the scholar-inresidence for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and consults for the Jewish Agency and other Jewish nonprofits. She is an Avi Chai Fellow and the recipient of the Covenant Award. She is author of Inspired Jewish Leadership: Practical Approaches to Building Strong Communities, a National Jewish Book Award finalist; Spiritual Boredom: Rediscovering the Wonder of Judaism; Confronting Scandal: How Jews Can Respond When Jews Do Bad Things (all Jewish Lights); and In the Narrow Places; and coauthor of The Case for Jewish Peoplehood: Can We Be One? (Jewish Lights). She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights). Her articles have appeared on the Newsweek/Washington Post website “On Faith.”

Rabbi Lawrence A. Englander, DHL has been rabbi of Solel Congregation of Mississauga, Ontario, since its inception in 1973. He is author of The Mystical Study of Ruth and is former editor of the CCAR Journal.

Lisa Exler is a senior program officer in the education and community engagement department at American Jewish World Service (AJWS).

Rabbi Elyse D. Frishman is editor of Mishkan T’filah: A Reform Siddur and rabbi of The Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef (Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand received her rabbinic ordination in 1993 at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She has served as chief executive of the United Kingdom Movement for Reform Judaism and prior to that was vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation in New York. Currently she is director of JHub, an operating program of the London-based Pears Foundation. She contributed to All These Views—Kol Nidre (Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Edwin Goldberg serves as coordinator of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) editorial committee on the forthcoming CCAR machzor. He has a doctorate in Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and is a rabbi at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, Florida.

Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, PhD, is the rabbinic advisor to the European Union for Progressive Judaism and coeditor of Machzor Ruach Chadashah. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, PhD, lectures around the globe on popular and scholarly topics spanning history, Hebrew, prayer and Jewish continuity. He has served on the faculties of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He is author of And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning and In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language, and has written for the international Jerusalem Post. He contributed to all ten volumes of the My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; to My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries; and to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef (all Jewish Lights).

Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, PhD is available to speak on the following topics:

• The Bible Doesn't Say That (This is ideal for interfaith study.)

• Four Exiles and Four Spiritual Revolutions: From the Ancient Prophets to Modernity

• 3,000 Years of Jewish Continuity as Seen Through 3,000 Years of Hebrew

• Everything I Need to Know I learned from Birkat Hamazon

• What If I Don't Like What the Hebrew Means?

Click here to contact the author.

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, has served for more than three decades as professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He is a world-renowned liturgist and holder of the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. He has written and edited many books, including My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; and Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows —Kol Nidre, the first two volumes in the Prayers of Awe series; and he is coeditor of My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. He is a developer of Synagogue 3000, a transdenominational project designed to envision and implement the ideal synagogue of the spirit for the twenty-first century.

Rabbi Walter Homolka, PhD, DHL, is rector of the Abraham Geiger College for the training of rabbis, executive director of the Zacharias Frankel European campus of the Ziegler School for Rabbinic Studies, and a professor of Jewish studies at Potsdam University in Germany. He is author of many books, including The Gate to Perfection: The Idea of Peace in Jewish Thought, and coauthor of How to Do Good & Avoid Evil: A Global Ethic from the Sources of Judaism (SkyLight Paths).

Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur is the rabbi of congregation MJLF (Mouvement Juif Libéral de France) in Paris. She was ordained at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 2008 and became the third woman rabbi in France. She is the creative director of Le Café Biblique, a pluralistic group of Jewish study, and chief editor of Tenou’a, a French magazine of Jewish thought. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is cofounder and executive director of Mechon Hadar (www.mechonhadar.org). He is an Avi Chai Fellow, the author of Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us about Building Vibrant Jewish Communities, and a contributor to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (all Jewish Lights). Newsweek named him one of fifty top rabbis in America.

Rabbi Reuven Kimelman, PhD, is professor of classical Judaica at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Mystical Meaning of Lekha Dodi and Kabbalat Shabbat and of the audio books The Moral Meaning of the Bible and The Hidden Poetry of the Jewish Prayerbook. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is the Emanu-El Scholar at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco and the author of many books on Jewish spirituality and mysticism, including I’m God; You’re Not: Observations on Religion and Other Disguises of the Ego; The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition; Honey from the Rock; The Book of Letters: A Mystical Alef-bait (all Jewish Lights); and his novel, Kabbalah: A Love Story. He contributed to all volumes of the My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; as well as to My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award; Who by Fire, Who by Water— Un’taneh Tokef ; and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Noa Kushner is founding rabbi of The Kitchen, which is one part indie Shabbat community, one part San Francisco experiment, and one part tool kit for DIY Jewish practice. The Kitchen works to build a connected, spiritually alive Jewish generation and a new resonant approach to religious life. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Daniel Landes is the director and rosh hayeshivah of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Pardes brings together men and women of all backgrounds to study classical Jewish texts and contemporary Jewish issues in a rigorous, challenging, and open-minded environment. Rabbi Landes is also a contributor to the My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award; Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef; and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Ruth Langer, PhD, is professor of Jewish studies in the Theology Department at Boston College, where she also serves as associate director of its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She received her PhD in Jewish liturgy and her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water— Un’taneh Tokef (Jewish Lights).

Catherine Madsen is the author of The Bones Reassemble: Reconstituting Liturgical Speech; In Medias Res: Liturgy for the Estranged; and a novel, A Portable Egypt. She is librettist for Robert Stern’s oratorio “Shofar,” recently released on the CD Awakenings (Navona Records NV5878), and bibliographer at the National Yiddish Book Center. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, PhD, is emeritus professor of Bible at Leo Baeck College in London, where he was principal (president) from 1985 to 2005. He is coeditor of three volumes of Forms of Prayer (the prayer books of the British Movement for Reform Judaism) and editor of the eighth edition of Daily, Sabbath and Occasional Prayers. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Dalia Marx, PhD earned her doctorate at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her rabbinic ordination at HUC–JIR in Jerusalem and Cincinnati. She is involved in various research groups and is active in promoting progressive Judaism in Israel. Rabbi Marx contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights). She writes for academic journals and the Israeli press, and is engaged in creating new liturgies and midrashim.

Ruth Messinger is the president of American Jewish World Service. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Charles H. Middleburgh, PhD, is rabbi of the Cardiff Reform Synagogue and director of Jewish studies at Leo Baeck College in London, where he has taught since 1984; and coeditor with Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, PhD, of the Liberal Judaism Machzor Ruach Chadashah. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Jay Henry Moses is director of the Wexner Heritage Program at The Wexner Foundation. Previously, he served for five years as associate rabbi at Temple Sholom of Chicago. Rabbi Moses has taught at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan and its Makom: Center for Mindfulness, and in many other adult education settings.

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, PhD, teaches Rabbinic and Second Temple literature at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He is author of The Rhetoric of Innovation, and contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, DMin, is a noted author whose work has appeared in many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and The Forward. He is editor of The Modern Men’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Jewish Men on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions and Text Messages: A Torah Commentary for Teens; and author of Being God’s Partner: How to Find the Hidden Link Between Spirituality and Your Work, the bestseller Putting God on the Guest List: How to Reclaim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and Righteous Gentiles in the Hebrew Bible: Ancient Role Models for Sacred Relationships (all Jewish Lights), among other books.

Rabbi Marc Saperstein, PhD, formerly principal of Leo Baeck College, currently serves as professor of Jewish history and homiletics at Leo Baeck College and as professor of Jewish studies at King’s College London. Previously he taught for twenty-nine years at three leading American universities. He has published four books on the sermon as source for Jewish history and culture, and contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Jonathan P. Slater, DMin, was ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and has a doctor of ministry degree from the Pacific School of Religion. He is the author of Mindful Jewish Living: Compassionate Practice and codirector of programs at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, as well as an instructor in meditation at the JCC in Manhattan and other venues. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi David A. Teutsch, PhD, is the Wiener Professor of Contemporary Jewish Civilization and director of the Center for Jewish Ethics at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where he served as president for nearly a decade. He was editor in chief of the seven-volume Kol Haneshamah prayer book series. His book A Guide to Jewish Practice: Everyday Living (RRC Press) won the National Jewish Book Award for Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice. He is also author of Spiritual Community: The Power to Restore Hope, Commitment and Joy (Jewish Lights) and several other books. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Dr. Ellen M. Umansky is the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. She is currently working on a book focusing on Judaism, liberalism, feminism, and God. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig, DD, teaches liturgy and homiletics at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and is rabbi emerita of Beth Am, The People’s Temple. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Dr. Ron Wolfson is Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, a cofounder of Synagogue 3000, and a member of Shevet: Jewish Family Education Exchange. He is author of The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven: Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth; God’s To-Do List: 103 Ways to Be an Angel and Do God’s Work on Earth; the three volumes Hanukkah, Passover, and Shabbat, all family guides to spiritual celebrations; The Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community; A Time to Mourn, a Time to Comfort: A Guide to Jewish Bereavement; Be Like God: God’s To-Do List for Kids; and, with Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, What You Will See Inside a Synagogue (all Jewish Lights). He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel is the senior rabbi of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C. He contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Dr. Wendy Zierler is associate professor of modern Jewish literature and feminist studies at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, New York. She is coeditor with Rabbi Carole Balin of In My Entering Now: The Selected Writings of Hava Shapiro (forthcoming). She is also author of And Rachel Stole the Idols and the feminist Haggadah commentary featured in My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries (Jewish Lights), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. She contributed to Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).


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