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“Judaism’s Liturgy: How Did We Get Here?” New B’nai Sholom Course


                Rabbi Don Cashman will take students on a journey “From Sacrifice to Prayer: The Great Reforming of Jewish Worship” in a new course at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation.

The four-week course will be held Monday mornings at 10:30 beginning March 14 at the synagogue, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York.

                Cashman’s course asks, “If Hillel or Judah Maccabee or King Herod walked into a modern synagogue, would they recognize it as Jewish worship?”

“The Torah, Mishnah and Talmud are full of details about the animal, grain and other sacrifices that took place at the great Temple in Jerusalem prior to its destruction by the Romans in 70 C.E.,” Cashman explains. “The details about the liturgy – that is, what they said during those times of worship – are not so clearly stated. The outline of our worship service today goes back to Temple ritual, and with some digging we can see the development of the prayer books we hold in our hands.”

                The class will examine rabbinic texts (Mishnah and Talmud) that discuss the outlines of the sacrificial worship and compare them to modern prayer books to see how things developed. Medieval prayer texts will be looked at as well, in drawing a line from the ancient worship to current practice. 

                The course will focus first on the Sh’ma part of the service, before moving on to the Tefillah/Amidah/Shemoneh Esrei. He also will look at the introductory sections, the Torah service and the concluding material.  

Our goal will be to get a better understanding of the structure of our service, how it derives from the ancient rituals and how it functioned to fulfill the world view of the rabbis in the post-Destruction age,” said Cashman. 

Registration for this course is required.  Cost is $25; for B’nai Sholom members, it is just $18.

For more information or to register for this course, contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or e-mail


Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region, creating a vibrant Jewish present that links ancient traditions with the promise of the future.  Nearly 130 diverse households from eight counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.  For information about B’nai Sholom and the benefits of belonging, visit  or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or

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