Wilton temple's new prayer books are family friendly

Worshipers at Temple B’nai Chaim’s High Holy Day family services will find themselves using a new prayer book this year, the Mishkan HaNefesh For Youth.

Published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with input from a number of people including Rabbi Rachel Bearman of the Georgetown temple, the book is specifically designed for use during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by families and children in middle school. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish year and Yom Kippur is the faith’s Day of Atonement.

“They are beautifully made with art that appeals to younger children, as well as older ones,” Bearman said.

Bearman said she was invited to be part of an advisory group of Jewish professionals from many fields who worked together to create the content, which includes alternative readings of more traditional prayers.

“In the prayer book on the right is the Hebrew and a more faithful translation for the High Holy Days,” she explained. “The left side is a creative meditation on the theme of the Hebrew prayer.” In some cases, the language is modernized or it may be more expansive regarding gender and what modern families look like.

One of the prayers, on the right side, talks about ancestors and people’s relationship with God. On the left side, is a prayer about the blessings of families of all identities.

One of Bearman’s prayers reads in part:

God is a big idea and a best friend.

God is a protector and guardian.

God is the hug that puts us back together when we fall apart.

As a prayer book for the High Holy Days, the focus is on people starting a new chapter in their lives. The language talks about preparing for the new year.

In a “family and kid-accessible way, we talk about repentance and unburdening ourselves of things we’ve done wrong so we can start the new year with energy and enthusiasm,” Bearman said.

Temple B’nai Chaim’s family and adult services are both full services in terms of prayers and music, but there are differences. The family service is shorter and the music is participatory.

“The band and lay choir sing songs kids can learn in the moment,” she said, adding it is not a tot service. “It’s a full service anyone can come to and experience,” she said.

The temple’s adult service has professional music and choir and a “traditional High Holy Day feel,” she added.

Bearman is looking forward to introducing the books to her congregation. “I’m really excited,” she said. “To have prayers I wrote in a book is remarkable.”


In addition to the new prayer book, Temple B’nai Chaim is offering a new opportunity for non-members who would like to attend family services to purchase High Holy Day tickets at a special price of $54 each. This price is normally only available to family members of current temple members, but this year, anyone who wants to attend services has the opportunity to call the office at 203-544-8695 and purchase tickets for this lower amount.

Schedule of services: (those marked with an * require tickets)

Rosh Hashanah

Sunday, Sept. 29:

Erev Rosh Hashanah*: 7:45 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 30: Rosh Hashanah

Morning Service* 9-11:15 a.m.

Family Service* 12-1:15 p.m.

Taschlich (held off-site/call for details): 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 1:

Rosh Hashanah Morning Service* 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Yom Kippur

Tuesday, Oct. 8:

Kol Nidre Service* 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 9:

Yom Kippur Morning Service* 9:-11:15 a.m.

Yom Kippur Family Service* 12-1:15 p.m.

Afternoon Service*: 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Yizkor and Neilah Services 5:30 p.m./6 p.m.

Temple B’nai Chaim is at 82 Portland Avenue in Wilton and serves families from Wilton, Ridgefield, Weston, Redding, Westport, and beyond.

For more information, visit templebnaichaim.org.