esa enai, and other things at beit daniel

last night i went to shabbat services at beit daniel, an israeli reform synagogue located in the north of tel aviv. the service was a mix of practices that you would find at a proto-typical reform synagogue in the states, e.g., standing up for the shema, and mourners kaddish, saying the "baruch shem" line of the shema aloud, debbie friedman melodies, guitar accompaniment, etc., but also had some unique elements. we sat after the barchu, and sat for maariv aravim before awkwardly being asked to rise again for the shema, psalm 121 (esa enai) was sung between the hashkiveinu and v'shamru, and all of the stage directions and speaking during the service was of course in hebrew. the service also featured a welcoming ceremony for a number of folks who had recently converted to judaism. i'm curious whether these conversions are being recognized by the israeli religious authorities.

the israeli reform prayerbook, ha-avodah shebalev (the prayer of the heart) has slightly different nuanced versions of the gvurot prayer in the amidah, and the aleinu. instead of praising god's power to resurrect the dead in the first line of the g'vurot (the traditional text is מכלכל חיים בחסד, מחיה מתים ברחמים רבים), it acknowledges god's ability to both humble (משפיל) a person, but then also raise them up (מרים). their aleinu is less particularistic than the traditional one; instead of being separated from the other nations, we've only been separated from the תועים - those who've strayed/wandered. i want to get my hands on a copy of one of their prayerbooks so i can remember the exact wording of these different variants.

the melody used for psalm 121 - esa enai - was beautiful. as its insertion into the service was codified in the siddur, i wonder whether this comes from a previously existing tradition of some sort. the melody is a recent israeli one, written by יוסף קרדונר, and has become fairly popular. two youtube clips and the lyrics are below:

שיר למעלות

שיר למעלות:
אשא עיני אל-ההרים, מאין יבא עזרי.
עזרי, מעם ה', עושה שמים וארץ.
אל יתן למוט רגלך; אל ינום שומרך.
הנה לא ינום ולא יישן שומר ישראל.
ה' שומרך ה' צלך על-יד ימינך.
יומם השמש לא יככה וירח בלילה.
ה' ישמרך מכל-רע ישמור את-נפשך.
ה' ישמור צאתך ובואך מעתה ועד עולם

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