When Fringes began, our services included the traditional Sh’ma prayer in the printed text. In practice, our community said many different words:
Israel – Some of us say ami, my people, rather than Israel, because of the way our tribal name has been conflated with a nation-state.
Adonai – lots of differences here! Members may say Yah, Shekhinah, Ehyeh, or Adonai. Some may say two different names during the prayer. Some change from service to service.
Eloheynu – Some of us say bitoheynu, within us, rather than the traditional.
Eventually we discovered Ariadne Joy Lieber’s new sh’ma in an interview with her in Lilith’s Winter 2008-2009 issue. Her reasons for her re-imagined sh’ma resonated deeply with Fringes’ practices and beliefs that we switched to printing her version in our liturgy:
שְׁמַע / Sh’ma Ariadne Joy Lieber
שְׁמַע יִשְּׂרָאֵל הַשְׁכִינָה בְּקִרְבֵּינוּהַשְׁכִינָה אַחָת
Sh’ma Yisrael, ha-Shekhinah b’Kirbainu ha-Shekhinah Ahat
Listen, Israel, the Shekhinah is in our inmost being, the Shekhinah is one
However, our verbal diversity happily continues. You may still hear different names for divinity, ami in addition to Israel, and eloheynu/bitoheynu. We do end with achat, which is the point, of course. Out of the diversity is a single community, but a community that IS the diversity.