Jewish Prayer Book

Yesterday, before I excused myself because I was very ill, Robby gave me the following book.

The cover is wooden and not original, but it is still quite nice and adds a bit of weight to the text within.

He bought it at Deseret Industries in Provo, Utah. He saw it and knew I would want it. I’ve read a few of the prayers. Some are quite beautiful. Prayer books are outside the mormon tradition. We only have a couple formal prayers everything else is spontaneous. What is familiar is the sections that deal directly with the day to day management of Jewish life as well as momentous occasions like births, marriages and deaths. Mormons love manuals. We use manuals as a basic guide for how to conduct the same momentous occasions as well as some of the other facets of mormon life like year-supply of food, church lessons, missionary work, leading music, leading the youth and many other example. What the manuals are not however is an explanation of the mysteries or deeper doctrines of the Church. These issues are left to individual members for individual prayer and meditation.

Obviously, this prayer book is not an Orthodox Jewish Prayer Book. An Orthodox book would be in Hebrew and Yiddish. I was thinking at one time about going into Jewish studies after I earn my bachelor’s, but I think rhetoric or poetry is more important to me now. However, this book still carries a bit of meaning because many of my mother’s maternal ancestors have Jewish surnames. They would have been assimilated German-Jews. We do know my grandmother’s family that stayed in Germany died at the hands of the Nazis, but not in the death camps.

We know they were not living as Jews and know it ultimately their Judaism is not that important if they didn’t think it was, but it is nice almost romantic to think a couple hundred maybe three hundred years ago, the men, women, boys and girls in my mother’s family were praying these prayers and hoping these hopes.


9 thoughts on “Jewish Prayer Book

  1. all kinds of feelings tumbled around inside of me when i read this blog post – and saw the book. i like the way the book is aging. it is interesting about your family history, and obviously heartfelt.

    however, i feel squeamish. aren’t mormons the folks who “baptize” deceased jews? please forgive if i have this wrong. as a half-jew, this kind of thing is of keen interest to me.

    also, please explain your opening sentence: “before I escaped to sit on the stool for a couple of hours” – what does this mean?

    thx, mary

    • Sentence one: THis is contexctual. I had eaten way too much dairy over the weekend and my problems with lactose had chosen that moment to show itself.

      Re baptisms for the dead: mormons do perform baptisms for the dead. All dead, not just jewish dead. The key part of the principle is that the living are to do the ordinance work for all their ancestors. Mormons do not believe like do most Christians that if a dead person dies without accepting the truth they are then condemned to hell just because they couldn’t baptized in this life (a mormon can not perform a baptism for the dead for one of your great-great grandmothers unless the mormon were a direct descendant of your great-great grandmother).

      The problems happening now is with mormons who want to baptist people who are not their families, direct relatives or ancestors. These people also like to do baptisms for celebrities. The mormon church has been fighting this fight for a very long time, it has only just been in the national press.

      With new technology and the best genealogists on the planet, the mormon church has been able to control who is doing baptisms. After what happened this winter, investigators discovered the person who submitted the holocaust names inappropriately was someone who the church had excommunicated and was trying to cause problems for the church during Mitt Romney’s election by hacking the databases that review the names submitted for baptisms for the dead.

      So the final line: I can do baptisms for the dead only for my direct ancestors and only them. My maternal grandmother did the research for our family (her side only, though) and other family members did the baptisms for the dead for the research she had done. The work my grandmother did went back four-hundred years. The baptisms for the dead for my family members who died during the holocaust were researched by my “aunt” and that work completed by her children and herself. She was the one who could do that work because she was the direct descendant.

      I hope that doesn’t sound too complicated. Yes, mormons do baptisms for the dead for ancestors we hope will choose to accept the ordinances completed. Mormons believe the dead can still make decisions for their own salvation while they are waiting for the final judgement. We believe many do accept and that many do not. It is the dead’s choice even if we do vicarious baptisms on their behalf.

      Do I believe in Baptisms for the Dead? Yes I do. As a very jaded social relativist, I do believe the dead are a continuation of life here in the physical world and that it would be bigoted of us to exclude them from heaven just because they never heard about Jesus and the salvation he brings (BTW: baptism for the dead are mentioned by Paul in the New Testament, so the mormon idea of baptisms for the dead is not at all new).

      • hi.
        if you were writing a blog about something you love and believe in, would you have started with a line about taking a long crap [I corrected this, the Ogre]? to me it feels insulting to jews, or to any religion other than your own. i don’t think you would have liked it if i started a post about the New Testament with a sentence about taking a long crap.

        i did not know this baptism issue is only recently in the press. i’ve been aware of it for over 20 years, through a friend, including holocaust victims.

        and, since this book is not a prayer book, i think you should have refrained from calling it one. a jewish prayer book is distinctly different from a rabbi’s manual. jewish prayer books are beautiful with deep feelings about God.

        i get the feeling we’d better let this lay. i don’t want to jeopardize our blog friendship.

      • I think I called it a prayer book because it is filled with prayers (the first half of the book), but like I said I’m not familiar with prayer books as they are outside the LDS tradition.

        Regarding letting it lay, no problem. My blog is not focused on LDS issues, I have only been posting about things that are of interest to me, like the Rabbi’s Manual and of course politics and as much stuff about subbing in a transition center for autistic adults as I can (which unfortunately is not often because of legal restrictions).

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