A Treasure and a Bargain!
While doing research on early Reform prayerbooks, I read through the first few volumes of the CCAR Yearbook.
I expected (and found) discussions of the need for a Union Prayer book to be used by all Reform congregation in America.
I was surprised though to also find long passionate discussions about the music used in synagogues. In 1892, Rabbi Gutman said:
You will agree with me that the Jewish Synagogue is indeed sadly in need of Jewish music. We can indeed say we sing, but our music is not the outgrowth of Jewish production. We sing Methodist music and Presbyterian and Catholic. I may say that my congregation may not be a praying congregation, but my congregation is a singing congregation ...[emphasis mine]
Dr. Wise continued the discussion by stating the importance of uniformity of practice and that any hymnal they produce, should be updated periodically so that all congregations could use the new songs.
Rev. Dr. Kohler added:
... But with prayer the soul is seldom touched unless the song unites. Music is the language of all languages, is the language of humanity, and we have as yet been in the formation, in the composition, in the making up our our prayer-books too intellectual and too little emotional. We need not become Methodists or Mooody or Sankey men, but we should touch the soul, make people what they seldom do in our synagogues, cry ...Another interesting find was the discussion of the possible closure of the World's Fair on Sunday. Apparently Congress had been talking about passing a law requiring the Fair to close. The CCAR felt that if the Congress was closing to Fair to comply with Christian customs, then the conference should object. However, if the Congress was passing the law to give the workers a much needed day of rest, then the conference should approve it.
I found many of the topics to be amazingly timely: Jews and the public schools, dealing with Antisemitism, marriage and confirmation practices, race relations, etc.
And ... all this can be your's! While I was poking around the CCAR site to see if the Yearbook had been digitized (it's not), I found that they did have their reprint of the first 3 years on sale for $3.00 ! Alas, I'm not on commission ;-)
Labels: CCAR Yearbook