Mishkan Hanefesh

Mishkan Hanefesh - Machzor for the Days of Awe

For High Holy Days, 2015

The New Machzor of the Reform Movement
Inspiration, Tradition, Innovation

Pre-publication discounts are available through April 1, 2015. Order now!

About Mishkan HaNefesh

  • Offers meaningful liturgy for both regular service attendees and those new to Jewish spirituality and practice
  • Inspires a multifaceted experience of Yamim HaNoraim—from feelings of awe to moments of solace, from the solitude of contemplation to the solidarity of song and worship
  • Provides an accessible guide through the journey of t'shuvah (repentance) and cheshbon hanefesh (self-reflection)
  • Bridges the personal and the communal, the ritual and the ethical dimensions of Yamim HaNoraim
  • Embraces the rich liturgical voices of the Jewish past and the aspirations of our people today

Special Features

  • Fully transliterated liturgy
  • Expanded options for Torah readings
  • Study texts that provide background and context
  • Contemporary poetry and alternative readings
  • Rich commentary drawing from Jewish tradition
  • A range of theological possibilities
  • New translations that capture the beauty of the Hebrew
  • Original woodblock art by acclaimed artist Joel Shapiro
  • Includes essays by the leading Reform Movement thinkers

For more information, please write to machzor@ccarnet.org or call 212-972-3636 x243.

About Mishkan HaNefesh

Why do we need a new machzor?

Gates of Repentance has served the Reform Movement well for many years. When it was first published in 1978, it represented exciting and progressive liturgical innovation. However, today it is beginning to feel dated. Congregations that use Mishkan T’filah are ready for a machzor that serves as a companion to the approach of the new siddur. The fact that it does not include transliteration is a stumbling block for many in our communities. So too, many of today’s Jews feel disconnected from prayer and from theological and ideological concepts that do not seem consistent with a contemporary sensibility. Like Mishkan Tfilah, Mishkan HaNefesh makes strides towards a multi-vocality that creates a space for all to inhabit, offering a multiplicity of different approaches. Through updated translations, elucidating essays, rich commentary, and a beautiful selection of poetry, Mishkan HaNefesh provides an environment for those of all backgrounds to find meaning in the High Holy Days.

Ten Essential Things You Need to Know about Mishkan HaNefesh

Frequently Asked Questions About Mishkan HaNefesh

Why should we switch to Mishkan HaNefesh?

Gates of Repentance was a wonderful innovation in its time. Incorporating more Hebrew and traditional liturgy allowed for a feeling of renewed tradition in the High Holy Days. Adding gender-neutral language addressed many of the contemporary needs of the Reform world. Today, our needs go beyond gender neutral language – the basic meaning of the holidays needs to be addressed and updated. Mishkan HaNefesh gives both the prayer leader and the community a wealth of resources for finding new meaning in these High Holy Days. Through updated translations, readings, and poetry, as well as easily accessible transliteration and new liturgical innovations, Mishkan HaNefesh breathes new life into High Holy Day services.

Many people in our community have strong emotional attachments to Gates of Repentance. How can we encourage the change?

Gates of Repentance will live on through the multi-vocality of Mishkan HaNefesh. Many of the readings and liturgical developments that first appeared in Gates of Repentance have found their way into Mishkan HaNefesh. By including these selections alongside new material, Mishkan HaNefesh allows for service leaders to design services by selecting from among different elements that will speak most strongly to their individual communities.

How many volumes will Mishkan HaNefesh be?

Mishkan HaNefesh will be published as a two volume set – with a gold cover for Rosh HaShanah and a silver one for Yom Kippur.

Will there be other editions available?

A large print set is available for pre-order at this time. It is a three volume paperback set, created to be large enough for ease of reading but not too heavy to hold.

A pulpit edition for rabbis and cantors is also available for pre-order at this time. This set is two volumes, hard bound, and larger than the regular set.

Due to manufacturing requirements, these editions are being printed at a different facility than the standard edition and will be shipped separately, arriving after the regular books but in time for the High Holy Days of 2015.

Is there a digital version? Will there be an app?

A digital version will be available, and there will be an app as well. We are in the very early stages of exploring the best technology in order to provide the most authentic, accurate, and robust experience on digital devices. It is likely that these will be available for the 2016 High Holy Day season.

Will there be a Visual T’filah version of Mishkan HaNefesh?

Yes, there will be a Visual T’filah version of Mishkan HaNefesh; however, because of the complexity of converting a print book into a useable Visual T’filah, only selections of Visual T’filah of Mishkan HaNefesh will be ready in 2015.

Will there be a musical companion?

The compendium of new musical compositions, Shirei Mishkan HaNefesh, developed by the American Conference of Cantors in partnership with the CCAR Press, reflects the same core values as Mishkan HaNefesh. Like the new machzor, this collection of original musical compositions gives voice to new liturgy and expands upon the familiar themes that have remained with us from generation to generations. A great High Holy Day resource! The price includes two copies of the volume for the service leader and the accompanist.

Mishkan HaNefesh and Shirei Mishkan HaNefesh Order Form

Draft of the table of contents for Shirei Mishkan HaNefesh

Was Mishkan HaNefesh piloted?

From 2011 to 2014, over 300 congregations, as well as chavurot, Hillel groups, and day schools, participated in piloting opportunities. Feedback from these congregations continues to have a significant impact on Mishkan HaNefesh. This is a machzor made by the collective Reform Movement for the collective Reform Movement.

Why are the translations in Mishkan HaNefesh different than those used in Mishkan T’filah?

The High Holy Days are unique, special days with their own themes and significance. Thus the translations for these days are also unique and highlight the special themes and mood of the High Holy Days. For more on the translation approach of Mishkan HaNefesh, see the translation exercise.

Why is the Rosh HaShanah morning Shofar service different in Mishkan HaNefesh than it was in Gates of Repentance?

The rationale for splitting up the Shofar service into its three thematic sections is to increase the drama and uniqueness of these moments by weaving them throughout the service. Also, having the three separate sections provides an opportunity for focusing on each of the three unique themes, without having to rush through them, allowing these important central motifs to infuse the service. Separated in this way, the Shofar sections become points of focus during the Rosh HaShanah service, and serve as a beautiful passageways throughout the morning liturgy. Because the Shofar service is traditionally part of musaf, which is not included in Reform liturgy, the current placement in Gates of Repentance is already a Reform innovation.

What Torah readings will be included in Mishkan HaNefesh?

There will be several options available for each service, including familiar options from Gates of Repentance and some new options.

Some of the Torah readings will be included within the service, and some will be included in the back of the volume as alternative options. For the Yom Kippur volume, it will be possible to choose which reading to do in the morning and which in the afternoon. See here for more specific information about the Torah readings.

There is a lot of material in each service. How can we create meaningful experiences while keeping the timing realistic?

Service leaders have to choose how to best shape the service for their specific communities. This applies to the choices of readings, as well as music. We asked clergy teams from different congregations to look at one service from Mishkan HaNefesh and create a sample outline showing what choices they would make to shape the experience for their community. Our colleagues generously agreed to do so, and the samples are provided below. We know that switching to a new prayerbook can present some challenges. It is our hope that these outlines will inspire you to determine what would be the right choices to make for your own community.

Mishkan HaNefesh Sample Outlines

We also encourage clergy teams to sign up for Havah T’filah, the in-person seminar we will be holding in partnership with the ACC May 4-5, 2015 in New York, which will focus on best practices for leading services from Mishkan HaNefesh.

There is a lot of material on each page and on each spread. Will people get distracted?

The editors of Mishkan HaNefesh accepted as a given that not everyone will follow the exact path set by the leader. Some people may be moved by a particular reading and linger on that page. Some may become interested in a section of sublinear commentary, or inspired by a meditation, and wind up moving through the service at their own pace. We encourage that kind of personal engagement with the material in Mishkan HaNefesh, and hope that everyone will find something within the covers of the prayerbook that will pique their curiosity or stir their soul. Particpants are encouraged to discover personal connections within Mishkan HaNefesh by exploring the texts on their own.

What is included in the Yom Kippur Minchah service?

This service is primarily the Yom Kippur afternoon Torah service. It focuses on the concept of midot as an organizing principle for study and reflection, using seven midot or ethical qualities. The service does not include Avodah, Eleh Ezkarah, Yizkor, which appear in the machzor as separate rubrics.

What is unique about the Avodah service?

This service asks the question: what does Avodah mean to us today? What are the enduring connections that can be found through Avodah? Through the use of texts, readings, and liturgy, participants are encouraged to reflect on our hunger for the spiritual, our ability to continue to grow and develop, our expressions of gratitude, our confessions of sins, and our preparation to begin again.

What is unique about the Yizkor service?

The Yizkor service in Mishkan HaNefesh uses poetry as a way to approach grief. This Yizkor service offers options for silent, individual reflection; for music and song; for shared congregational prayer; and for individual voices. This service references many forms of grief and many kinds of relationships. Individuals are encouraged to find their own way through the experience of memory and loss even as the leader serves as a caring guide.

Will Shabbat insertions be included?

Yes, Shabbat insertions will be clearly indicated where relevant.

How does Mishkan HaNefesh direct ritual choreography?

Different communities have different traditions regarding when to stand, when to sit, and when to read responsively. Mishkan HaNefesh has left these options open to each community to decide on their own. Following in the tradition of Mishkan T’filah, Mishkan HaNefesh invites communities to take ownership over their services in new ways and does not indicate when to stand or sit.

Also like Mishkan T’filah, Mishkan HaNefesh does not use italics to indicate responsive readings. Many readings, however, are designed to offer responsive reading as an option by providing indented paragraphing between segments.

Machzor Advisory Group and Editorial Team

See the roster here.

Back to TOC

Ordering Mishkan HaNefesh

When will Mishkan HaNefesh be published?

Mishkan HaNefesh will be published in June 2015 so that it can be used for the High Holy Days in 2015.

Are there advance copies of Mishkan HaNefesh available?

There will be a limited number of advance bound copies of the standard size edition of the books available in April 2015 for members of clergy teams to use in their High Holy Day planning. For orders of advance copies, please email us at machzor@ccarnet.org by March 31, 2015. It is not possible to obtain advance copies of the large print or the pulpit editions.

Is there a pre-publication draft of Mishkan HaNefesh available?

While a complete pre-publication draft of Mishkan HaNefesh is not available, we do offer sample booklets of draft sections from Mishkan HaNefesh. Please email machzor@ccarnet.org for information about how to acquire a sample draft booklet. As soon as the book is finished and at the printer, an online version will be available for viewing. Due to copyright restrictions, it will not be printable or downloadable.

Is there a draft of Mishkan HaNefesh available online?

Mishkan HaNefesh is currently viewable online. It is not downloadable or printable, but it is viewable. To get access to the online version, please contact us at machzor@ccarnet.org. We are bound by the licenses we have obtained for material (poetry, songs, etc.) for which we are not the copyright holder, and therefore cannot make this online version widely available.

When will I have the copies of Mishkan HaNefesh that I’ve already ordered?

You will have your copies of the standard size edition of Mishkan HaNefesh by the end of June 2015 at the latest. The large print editions and the pulpit editions will arrive later, as they are being printed at a different facility, but they will arrive in time for the High Holy Days.

How much will Mishkan HaNefesh cost?

We offer significant pre-publication discounts. View the Mishkan HaNefesh order form for details.

How do I pre-order copies of Mishkan HaNefesh?

Please complete the Mishkan HaNefesh order form and send it to us by email, fax, or regular mail.

Will it be possible to have the books printed with customized dedications?

Unfortunately, that is not a financially feasible option. However, we will create a bookplate template for congregations to customize and print. The template will be available for download on ccarpress.org starting in March 2015.

Back to TOC

Bringing Mishkan HaNefesh into Your Community

Why should we switch to Mishkan HaNefesh?

Gates of Repentance was a wonderful innovation in its time. Incorporating more Hebrew and traditional liturgy allowed for a feeling of renewed tradition in the High Holy Days. Adding gender-neutral language addressed many of the contemporary needs of the Reform world. Today, our needs go beyond gender neutral language – the basic meaning of the holidays needs to be addressed and updated. Mishkan HaNefesh gives both the prayer leader and the community a wealth of resources for finding new meaning in these High Holy Days. Through updated translations, readings, and poetry, as well as easily accessible transliteration and new liturgical innovations, Mishkan HaNefesh breathes new life into High Holy Day services.

How to honor emotional attachment to Gates of Repentance while encouraging change?

Gates of Repentance will live on through the multi-vocality of Mishkan HaNefesh. Many readings and liturgical developments first found in Gates of Repentance have found their way into Mishkan HaNefesh. By including these pieces of Gates of Repentance alongside new material, Mishkan HaNefesh allows for clergy to design services by selecting from different elements that will speak most strongly to their individual communities. Simultaneously, individuals are invited to discover their connections and voice within Mishkan HaNefesh by exploring the texts on their own.


Will there be a Visual T’filah version of Mishkan HaNefesh?

Yes, there will be a Visual T’filah version of Mishkan Hanefesh; however, because of the complexity of converting a print book into a useable Visual T’filah, only selections of Visual T'filah of Mishkan HaNefesh will be ready in 2015.

Are there advance copies of Mishkan HaNefesh available?

There will be limited number of advance bound copies of the standard size edition of the books books available in April 2015 for members of clergy teams to use in their High Holy Day planning. For orders of advance copies, please email us at machzor@ccarnet.org by March 31, 2015. It is not possible to obtain advance copies of the large print or the pulpit editions.

Is there a pre-publication draft of Mishkan HaNefesh available?

While a complete pre-publication draft Mishkan HaNefesh is not available, we do offer sample booklets of sections from Mishkan HaNefesh. Please email machzor@ccarnet.org for information about how to acquire a sample booklet.

Is there a draft of Mishkan HaNefesh available online?

Mishkan HaNefesh will be viewable online starting in early March. Though it will not be downloadable or printable due to copyright restrictions, sample pages are available.

When will I have the copies of Mishkan HaNefesh that I’ve already ordered?

You will have your copies of the standard size edition of Mishkan HaNefesh by the end of June 2015 at the very latest. The large print editions and the pulpit editions will arrive later, as they are being printed at a different facility, but they will arrive in time for the High Holy Days.

How do I pre-order Mishkan HaNefesh copies?

Please complete the Mishkan HaNefesh order form and send it to us.

Will it be possible to have the books printed with customized dedications?

Unfortunately, that is not a financially feasible option. However, we will create a bookplate template for congregations to customize and print. The template will be available on ccarpress.org starting March 2015.

Back to TOC

Contact Info

Contact us today!

For more information, please write to machzor@ccarnet.org or call 212-972-3636 x243.

Back to TOC