Forty contributors from six countries and three continents interpret one of Judaism's favorite prayers and the difficulty of naming the unnameable.One of the oldest and most beloved prayers known even to Jews who rarely attend synagogue is Avinu Malkenu ("Our Father, Our King"), a liturgical staple for the entire High Holy Day period. "Our Father, Our King" has resonance also for Christians, whose Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father."Despite its popularity, however, Avinu Malkenu causes great debate because of the difficulties in thinking of God as father and king. Americans no longer relate positively to images of royalty; victims of parental abuse note the problem of assuming a benevolent father; and feminists have long objected to masculine language for God. These issues are just the tip of a larger linguistic and spiritual iceberg: How do we name God altogether, without recourse to imagery that defies belief?
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