When Temple Beth Israel congregants hold Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, they will recite prayers from a prayer book that has been used by Reform Judaism for about 25 years.
But in the future, they will recite prayers from a prayer book that they and Rabbi Audrey Korotkin helped to develop.
Korotkin, TBI?spiritual leader, is the chairman of a team of eight rabbis who are contributing commentary and explanations in the High Holy Day Machzor or prayer book for the Reform Movement. Overseeing the work is the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
The team provides information on the prayers' origin and why they are part of the book as well as reflections and commentary. Korotkin is responsible for the materials the rabbis on her team submit to the editors and acts as a liaison to the core team.
The work began several years ago with the congregation becoming part of the effort in 2011 when the conference chose Temple Beth Israel as one of the congregations to test the new material.
"We tried to create the feel of the High Holy Days," Korotkin said about the review process. "We tried to respond from that emotional place."
At separate sessions, they evaluated the Rosh Hashanah prayers and a section of the Yom Kippur prayers.
She said it is a different way for the conference to test out new material, and it is a wonderful experience for a small-town congregation to be giving input to the editorial committee.
She said the committee not only is seeking input from servant leaders and the congregations as a whole, but it is seeking feedback through email surveys.
The process is expected to continue through more reviews and may take years to complete.
Each prayer comes with options, allowing individual congregations to select the language or choice that is appropriate for them.
"As Jews in the 21st century, we want a prayer book that excites us, that speaks to our heart," Korotkin said. "We want to create a prayer book that will last another generation."
She said evaluating the prayer book is more challenging than critiquing one for Sabbath or Shabbat services.