Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Prayers to Open the Heart and Soul for the High Holy Days

Marcia FalkTo prepare for the High Holy Days, Fresh Ideas reprints five prayers, some unique to Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidrey and Yom Kippur liturgy and some that are used during both the high holy days and during the year, from Marcia Falk’s book "The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season," published in the HBI Series on Jewish Women. In her book, Falk recreates the holiday's key prayers from an inclusive perspective, often accompanying them with quotes from the Psalms and prophets.

Lighting the Candles for Rosh Hashana

Rise up, shine for your light is here. — Isaiah 60:1

May our hearts be lightened,

our spirits born anew >

as we light the holiday candles

and greet the newborn year.

Blessing the Children

The squares of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing. — Zechariah 8:5

(The child’s name) —

Be who you are,

and may you be blessed

in all that you are.

Fruit of the Tree: Apples and Honey

The trees of the field will give forth their fruit. — Leviticus 26:14

Go, eat choice foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to those who have not provided for themselves, for the day is holy — Nehemiah 8:10

Let us bless the source of life

that swells the tree’s fruit with sweetness.

May the year be sweet as apples dipped in honey

and full as the ripe pomegranate

with blessings.

Tallit: Prayer Shawl

Wrapped in a robe of light, spreading the skies like a canopy. — Psalms 104:2

Enveloped in light, I wrap around me

the widespread wings of the tallit.

Kol Nidrey: All Vows

All vows —

all promises and pledges —

that we have made to ourselves

and that no longer serve

for the good —

may their grip be loosened

that we be present of mind and heart

to the urgency of the hour.

"The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season"(HBI Series on Jewish Women) by Marcia Falk, makes a great holiday gift or addition to your Jewish library. For more information on the prayers included, visit Brandeis University Press.

Blog compiled by Amy Powell, HBI assistant director.