Harlow, Julius

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HARLOW, JULIUS (1931– ), rabbi, liturgist, and editor. Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Harlow received his B.A. from Morning-side College in Sioux City and then entered the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was ordained in 1959. He then became associate director of the Rabbinical Assembly, the organization of Conservative rabbis.

Harlow carved out a unique place at the Rabbinical Assembly, working as the editor and chief liturgist for the Conservative movement for some four decades. He began as the secretary of a committee charged with editing a weekday prayer book. The project had lingered until the newly ordained Rabbi Harlow, working with the senior rabbis of the movement, brought it out within two years. It bore the marks of all his other liturgical work; a clarity of language and a crispness of style. By 1965 he had become the editor of the Rabbinical Assembly publications. Among his first project was a Rabbi's Manual, Likute Tefiilah, a small black book that rabbis brought with them to religious occasions, that contained the traditional liturgy. It won near universal acceptance in the movement and was used well beyond Conservative Judaism.

Harlow was sensitive to the twin revolutions of modern Jewish life: the Holocaust and the State of Israel, and the necessity of giving religious expression to both. This was clearly reflected in the Maḥzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (1972), in which he wove into the traditional matryology of Eleh Ezkerah themes of the Shoah, and composed the moving Kaddish, which used the dissonance between the well known words of the doxology and interspersed 17 – one less than ḥai (Heb. "life") – concentration camps and killing centers, the ghettoes and other sites of Jewish catastrophe, into the prayer. The insertion of these words and the places and experiences they represent means that even the most learned cannot recite the prayer by rote, and the magnification of the Divine name is brought down to earth, shattered by the painful reality of Jewish victimization.

His major project for the next decade was Siddur Sim Shalom (1985), which, unlike the widely used Silverman edition, could be used for weekdays as well as Sabbaths, and included many additional texts and readings. It is a complete siddur with readings and with Pirkei Avot. By 1994 a new version included a choice in the Amidah between including the Matriarchs or not, as the Conservative Movement became more egalitarian, more inclusive of women. Harlow was not pleased with some of the changes introduced into the siddur in the intervening decade. He objected in an essay published in the journal Conservative Judaism; Harlow noted that "changes based upon gender language referring to God disrupt the integrity of the classic texts of Jewish prayer, drive a wedge between the language of the Bible and the language of the prayer-book, and often misrepresent biblical and rabbinic tradition." A recent work, Pray Tell: A Hadassah Guide to Prayer, offers a wonderful guide to Jewish prayer representing many denominations. Even in retirement, Harlow continued his life calling, translating Megilat Shoah written by Avigdor Shinan of the Hebrew University, that seeks to formalize a text for reading on Yom Hashoah, primarily in the Conservative synagogue.

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]