December 2016

In services, over the last several weeks, we’ve made a small but significant addition to the Kaddish Shalem and Mourner’s Kaddish. We’ve inserted the Hebrew phrase, “וְעַל כּל־יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל- v’yosh-vay tayvel—and peace for all humankind—into the final line of both prayers.

The verse we’re normally familiar with is: עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.—May the Almighty who creates peace in God’s heavens, create peace, for us and for Israel. Many people know it by heart and can just join in when we sing it together. This was also the version found in our previous Sim Shalom prayer book. However, if you look at the Kaddish prayers in our new Lev Shalem Siddur, v’yosh-vay tayvel is added.

There are also specific body motions that accompany the new Osay Shalom line. We recite the line by first taking three steps backwards, one step with each of the first three words. With the next three words, we rock up on our heals, and then we bow to the left on “alenu.” We bow to the right on “v’kol Yisrael,” and bow forward on v’yosh-vay tayvel. Finally, we walk forward three steps to the words, v’imru Amen.   It takes getting used to but will come more easily over time.

Many Conservative Movement congregations are also now including this addition to Osay Shalom With these new words, we move from ourselves as individuals, to our Jewish and Israeli kehillah, to all of humanity. We are reminded by these new words that God is the source of all peace from the particular to the universal, and that Judaism cares for all people. In a world that seems to be taking a more individualistic, and even narcissistic view, Judaism espouses that peace must be for all of humankind, for we are all God’s children. V’ yosh-vay tayvel–And Peace for all humankind! After a long and drawn-out presidential campaign and election and, for many, a tumultuous election, this complete version of Osay Shalom seems most fitting.

עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל כּל־יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל , וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.

May the Almighty who creates peace in the ideal, give us the strength to love and pursue peace for us, for Israel, for all humankind. And may the lights of the Chanukkiyah shine brightly within our homes spreading the light of warmth, hope, and peace for us all.

Chanukkah Sameach,
Rabbi, Dr. Larry Bazer