New siddurim

Last night (Weds 10 Oct) we went to shul so Arlene could say kaddish for her father. We reached for the prayerbooks and, what’s this?! Unfamiliar new-looking prayerbooks. We had been there just under two weeks ago for the anniversary of Arlene’s grandmother’s death, and these were new since then. We found out as soon as the service started. The guy who lead it, the synagogue’s ritual director, said, “You’ve probably noticed that there’s a change. Tonight is the first time we’re using these new prayerbooks. So here’s what we’ll do: we’ll recite ashrei (psalm 145, which we say as a token afternoon service. It has a whole domain named after it!), then say kaddish, then, since we’ll have used the prayerbooks as a congregation, we’ll all stand and say a shehecheyanu.”

OK, everyone there knew what he meant, but maybe not all my readers do. That’s a little two-line prayer that I learned when I was a kid. It’s one of three blessings you say (or more likely sing) before lighting candles on the first night of chanukah.* You also say it on other holidays, and at special times like weddings and bar mitzvahs. It’s basically, “Thank you, G-d, for letting us live to see this event.” So it was kind of neat not only to have been there the first time those books were used, but also to have been part of marking the occasion.

* On subsequent nights of chanukah, you’ve already made it to chanukah this year, so you only say the other two blessings.

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