The Amidah (literally “The Standing”) is the central prayer of Jewish worship. It contains three main introductory sections.
The first is known as Avot, or ancestors. It establishes our personal relationship with God in history, traditionally through the lineage of the patriarchs.
The second section is known at Gevurot, or might. It calls upon God as the protector of Israel who has the power to renew life.
And the third section is known as Kedushah, or holiness. It relates to God’s unique sacred nature and puts our relationship with God in a sacred context.
In the Conservative Movement the inclusion of the Imahot, or matriarchs, as part of the Avot section of the Amidah has become common practice. The responsa (Halakhahic opinion) that allowed such an emendation to the Amidah was written by Rabbi Joel Rembaum and accepted by the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards in 1990. Since then, a version of the Imahot for the Amidah has been printed in Conservative prayer books - the familiar "b" that you see below.
A few years ago, Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, acting in his capacity as mara d’atra for Beth Tzedec, allowed for the recitation of the Imahot in private prayer and retained the traditional blessing at the end of its recitation.
As we continue our transition to new rabbinic leadership, one of our goals, as stated in our Strategic Plan Structure, is that we engage a “team of dynamic, inspiring, warm and welcoming clergy” who hold “fully inclusive halakhahic positions.” The inclusion of the Imahot is one example of such a position. It’s inclusion in public prayer is something I intend to introduce, acting in my capacity as mara d’atra, beginning Rosh Hodesh Elul (September 1) at Beth Tzedec.
Good leadership, though, is a partnership in which we inform, educate and discuss important elements of our prayer experience. That’s why we are pleased to announce the following opportunities to learn together the history, structure and opportunity for innovation that Judaism embraces with regard to prayer, the Imahot in particular.
Please join us for a learning session to discuss this important change on Monday, July 8, or a Zoom-only learning session on Tuesday, August 6.
Below is a list of resources that we'll be referencing and consulting for our discussion.
Thank you,Rabbi Steve Wernick
From Siddur Sim Shalom, page 122a
From Siddur Sim Shalom, page 122b
Rabbi Frydman-Kohl's message to the Congregation, from the inside front cover of Siddur Sim Shalom