Ministry publishes siddur without prayer for the state

JERUSALEM — The Religious Affairs Ministry has published a siddur that does not include the prayer for the welfare of the state and its leaders.

The prayerbook, dated Kislev 5757, also makes the saying of Hallel optional rather than mandatory on Independence Day, said Meimad, the movement for Religious Zionist renewal. The siddur also leaves out additional prayers said on Independence Day.

Meimad's Yisrael Cohen said party leaders fear the move, which violates the consensus that has existed in the Religious Zionist camp since Israel's establishment, is a sign of an increased distancing by members from Zionism and Israel.

Rabbi Kalman Neuman, a Meimad leader, said he had walked into a synagogue in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood and found a copy of the siddur there recently.

"I'm worried that this might be symptomatic of a certain drift towards haredi [ultra-religious] positions among the Religious Zionist community," he said. "During the Rabin government, there were rabbis who called for not saying the prayer for the welfare of the state, and this might be a continuation of a kind of disenchantment with certain things that are going on in the state, and a kind of downplaying of the religious role of the state of Israel, the place of the state of Israel in religious attitudes."

When a similar situation with another siddur occurred some 18 months ago, copies still in the ministry's possession had a sticker bearing the prayer for the welfare of the state inserted into them before they were being distributed, he added.

A National Religious Party spokesman said that this was a "mistake, and should be corrected."

Religious Affairs Ministry spokesman Yair Wolf said "nothing had happened," and that according to the siddur, based on the customs of Eliahu, the prayer for the welfare of the state is not said. Rather, he said, an expanded version of the prayer for the well-being of IDF soldiers, which includes portions relating to the state, is said.

Wolf said the traditional prayer for the state is "not sacred" and that it was wrong for Meimad officials to seek reasons to find fault with Eliahu, whom he said had a special siddur for Independence Day.