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Rabbi Jules Harlow: The Architect of Modern Jewish Prayer in North America

Rabbi Jules Harlow, the editor of the Siddur Sim Shalom, passed away at 92. His work introduced significant changes to traditional Jewish prayer, balancing tradition and modernity in the Conservative Jewish community.

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Rabbi Jules Harlow: The Architect of Modern Jewish Prayer in North America

Rabbi Jules Harlow: The Architect of Modern Jewish Prayer in North America

Rabbi Jules Harlow, the architect of modern Jewish prayer in North America, passed away on February 13, 2024, at the age of 92. As the editor of the influential Siddur Sim Shalom, his work left an indelible mark on Conservative Jewish worship practices.

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A Rabbinical Trailblazer

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Harlow's journey led him to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. His academic pursuits culminated in his role as the editor of the Standard Conservative Prayer Book, Siddur Sim Shalom, which became the cornerstone of Conservative Jewish congregations across North America.

Siddur Sim Shalom: A Prayer Book for a New Era

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First published in 1985, Siddur Sim Shalom introduced significant changes to traditional Jewish prayer. Harlow offered alternatives to frequent references to animal sacrifices and provided optional personal prayers. In a bold move towards gender egalitarianism, he modified early morning prayers to be more inclusive.

Harlow once said, "Our prayer book should be a living document, reflecting the evolving needs and values of our community."

Balancing Tradition and Modernity

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Incorporating the creation of the State of Israel and the Holocaust as theological and moral realities, Harlow's work acknowledged the monumental shifts in Jewish history. However, he remained wary of later changes that used gender-sensitive language to refer to God.

In addition to his work on the prayer book, Harlow served as executive editor of Conservative Judaism and translated works by Israeli Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon. His contributions have left a lasting legacy, ensuring that Conservative Jewish worship remains relevant and meaningful for generations to come.

As we remember Rabbi Jules Harlow, let us honor his dedication to preserving tradition while embracing the changing landscape of modern Jewish life. His work on the Siddur Sim Shalom continues to inspire and guide the Conservative Jewish community in their spiritual journey.

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