Some years ago, I was honoured to be the ba’al musaf, prayer leader for the additional service on Rosh HaShanah. As it turned out, my son Shefa had led the same service about two years before I did and we were comparing notes. He asked me how far behind schedule the congregation was when I began and I said that they were only about forty minutes late when I began. He replied that it was a full hour late when he began and we both remembered that, by the time we were done, the full house had been halved. We both saw this as a shame, since the unique elements of the Rosh HaShanah service, namely the blowing of the shofar and the three special sections of the musaf all come at the end of a long morning when people are tired and leaving for lunch.
This year, Hanna and I have been working with the same issue as she designs a special edition of Machzor Kol Koreh for her congregation in Boston. To follow the traditional order of the service means putting these elements at the end. In our case, it’s not so much that this means the service will run very late as that these crucial parts of the service will be further abbreviated and rushed if the earlier parts of the service take longer than expected.
So here are the two ideas which resulted from both conversations:
1. (a) Blow the shofar with its blessings, the required soundings to fulfill the mitzvah, between P’sukei d’Zimra / Verses of Praise and the barchu which formally brings the congregation together.
(b) Then weave Malchuyot / the theme of God’s sovereignty, through the amidah of shacharit / morning service. This is easy, since the core of Malchuyot is the middle blessing. Sound the shofar.
(c) Since the traditional Torah reading begins with “God remembered Sarah,” bring the verses and blessing of Zichronot to the end of the Torah reading. Sound the shofar and put the Torah away.
(d) In this format, you can then have a “real” musaf which will be much shorter. Instead of all three, only recite [selections from] Shofarot. Sound the shofar and conclude the amidah and the service.
You will find this option included as part of Machzor Kol Koreh. I’ve used it, but only in the context of a retreat where everyone was present for the entire service. Aside from its lack of familiarity, the risk of this format in a congregation is that people tend to come late to the service and they can miss the first and most important shofar service.
2. (a) In this option, one would follow the traditional sequence until the amidah for shacharit. Then, people could either say the silent amidah or have a collection of meditative readings. Following the silence, the cantor could chant Hineni or some alternative, followed by a traditional amidah which is a hybrid of shacharitand musaf in the way the Reform movement pioneered.
(b) After the amidah concludes with Avinu Malkenu and kaddish, take out the Torah.
(c) Then we sound the shofar with its blessings.
(d) Now do aleinu and whatever parts of Malchuyot are meaningful, including and especially the paragraph ending with the blessing. Then sound the shofar again.
(e) The reading for the first two aliyot could be the first and sixth days of creation.
(d) Now recite the Zichronot prayers and verses and sound the shofar.
(e) Read the first three aliyot of the traditional Torah reading and prayers for healing.
(f) Now do the prayers and verses for Shofarot and sound the shofar.
(g) Put the Torah away and conclude the service.
This is the option we’re working on now and, when completed, I’ll add to Machzor Kol Koreh. Everyone who has a subscription will be notified of the update. Those who would like to subscribe can go to the ReSources Catalogue on this site to purchase.
With the hope that this may be helpful.