Wondering how to prepare for the High Holy Days? One way many Jews prepare is with a good book. Here are some books I have used for this purpose:
- Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days by Kerry Olitzky and Rachel Sabath – Two Reform rabbis guide readers through a gradual process of preparation for the High Holy Days.
- This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Alan Lew – Rabbi Alan Lew was a Conservative rabbi who had extensive training in Buddhist practice. He brought both to this remarkable book.
- Days of Awe: A Treasury of Jewish Wisdom for Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal on the High Holy Days by S.Y. Agnon. For readers who want more text and less guidance, the Nobel Prize for Literature winner Agnon provides this little book of texts about the High Holy Days. It is a classic compendium of material from all eras of Jewish history.
- Entering the High Holy Days: A Complete Guide to the History, Prayers and Themes by Reuven Hammer – Rabbi Reuven Hammer is a scholar of Jewish liturgy and a Conservative rabbi. This book is particularly good if you want to learn about the history and themes of the High Holy Days, and it will enrich your experience of the services, which are unique in the Jewish year.
- The Machzor – various – The Machzor is the prayer book for the High Holy Days. One way to prepare is to read the prayers ahead of time and ponder their words while you have time to do so without rushing. There are many editions of the Machzor available, including:
- Mishkan HaNefesh, the new Reform machzor
- Kol HaNeshamah, the Prayer Book for the Days of Awe, a machzor from the Reconstructionist movement
- Machzor Lev Shalem, a machzor from the Conservative movement.
- Koren Sacks Rosh Hashanah and Machzor and Yom Kippur Machzor – An Orthodox machzor with commentary by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Koren Press in Jerusalem is noted for the beauty of the books it produces.
- or: whichever machzor your congregation uses.
And now, dear readers, what have I left out? Is there a book you’ve used for High Holy Day preparation that you particularly recommend? Please share it with us in the comments!