Taking Ownership of Tefillah


Shalom Aleichem. When I say my prayers I prefer to be able to take ownership of my actions. I don’t like to hear “and you will do this because I am your G-d.” I became disinterested in prayer when I was forced to say things I didn’t believe, when I felt like I was being watched and commanded. But I didn’t want to miss out on a prayer experience that felt authentically Jewish; I didn’t want to depart too much in format from the traditional tefillot.

With this in mind I have thought long and hard about wording and I came up with a style of wording that I believe is in the first person plural active voice—the “we” form. I apply it here to the Shema, and plan to use this new style to reword other prayers. In this reimagined version, we are deciding what we want to keep and how we want to do our mitzvot; nobody is telling us how to do it.

This format for keeps me engaged with our G-d concept. We continue to be Am Yisrael—the people who wrestle with G-d—but we remove the connotation of a hierarchical patriarchal deity.


(For now I introduce the English wording as I am still working on the grammatical changes needed in Hebrew.)

Shema yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad.
We Israel listen, Adonai, our concept of the Divine, Adonai is One.

Barukh shem k’vod malkhuto le’olam va’ed.
Blessed is the glorious name of divine governance in the universe forever. 

V’ne’e’hav et Adonai eloheinu b’khol l’vaveinu u v’khol nafsheinu u v’khol me’odeinu.
And we will love Adonai, our concept of the Divine, with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our being. 

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