Forty contributors from six countries and three continents interpret one of Judaism's favorite prayers and the difficulty of naming the unnameable.
One of the oldest and most beloved prayers known even to Jews who rarely attend synagogue is Avinu Malkenu ("Our Father, Our King"), a liturgical staple for the entire High Holy Day period. "Our Father, Our King" has resonance also for Christians, whose Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father."
Despite its popularity, however, Avinu Malkenu causes great debate because of the difficulties in thinking of God as father and king. Americans no longer relate positively to images of royalty; victims of parental abuse note the problem of assuming a benevolent father; and feminists have long objected to masculine language for God. These issues are just the tip of a larger linguistic and spiritual iceberg: How do we name God altogether, without recourse to imagery that defies belief?
A detailed study of a particular prayer, and a thoughtful analysis of the age-old but altogether modern problem of naming God, it is intended for people who worship but have questions about God. It features some forty contributors, men and women from all Jewish denominations and from around the world scholars, rabbis, artists and thinkers from Canada, France, Israel, the Netherlands, UK and US, who contribute fascinating thought-pieces on a critical question for religious consciousness today.
Contributors: Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Los AngelesRabbi Anthony Bayfield, London, UKRabbi Will Berkowitz, Seattle, WADr. Annette Boeckler, London, UKDr. Marc Brettler, Boston, MADr. Erica Brown, Silver Spring, MDRabbi Angela Buchdahl, New York, NYRabbi Elliot Cosgrove, New York, NYRabbi Joshua Davidson, New York, NYRabbi Lawrence Englander, Mississauga, ON, CanadaLisa Exler, New York, NYRabbi Paul Freedman, London, UKRabbi Elyse Frishman, Franklin Lakes, NJRabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, London, UKRabbi Edwin Goldberg, Chicago, ILRabbi Andrew Goldstein, London, UKDr. Joel M. Hoffman, Katonah, NYRabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Mamaroneck, NYRabbi Delphine Horvilleur, Paris, FranceRabbi Elie Kaunfer, New York, NYRabbi Karen Kedar, Chicago, ILRabbi Reuven Kimelman, Boston, MARabbi Daniel Landes, IsraelLiz Lerman, Washington, DCRabbi Asher Lopatin, New York, NYCatherine Madsen, Amherst, MARabbi Jonathan Magonet, London, UKRabbi Dalia Marx, IsraelRuth Messinger, New York, NYRabbi Charles H. Middleburgh, London, UKRabbi Jay Henry Moses, Columbus, OHRabbi Jack Riemer, Boca Raton, FLRabbi Jeffrey Salkin, South Orange, NJRabbis Dennis and Sandy Sasso, Indianapolis, INRabbi Marc Saperstein, London, UKRabbi Jonathan P. Slater, Hastings-on-Hudson, NYRabbi David Stern, Dallas, TXRabbi David Teutsch, Philadelphia, PADr. Ellen Umansky, White Plains, NYEdward van Voooen, Amsterdam, NetherlandsRabbi Margaret Moers Wenig, Brooklyn, NYDr. Ron Wolfson, Los Angeles, CARabbi Daniel Zemel, Arlington, VADr. Wendy Zierler, New York, NY"