בסיעתא דשמיא

 

Prayers, liturgy, and related work

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Meet Open Siddur contributor

Dan Mendelsohn AvivDan Mendelsohn Aviv

Dr. Dan Mendelsohn Aviv has been engaged in Jewish learning as an educator, lecturer, professor, published scholar and author for almost twenty years. His book End of the Jews: Radical Breaks, Remakes and What Comes Next came out in 2012. Having spent three years creating an alternative model for informal education, he recently returned to his greatest passion-classroom instruction at Bialik Hebrew Day School in Toronto, Canada. He is also an itinerant blogger (at The Next Jew), inchoate podcaster and MacBook zealot. Most of all, he is proud of his darling Noa and three children.

“People of the (Open Source) Book” by Dan Mendelsohn Aviv (Key Publishing, 2012)

Spring Selections

  • ברכת האילנות | The Blessing of Flowering Fruit Trees in the Spring Season

    ברכת האילנות | The Blessing of Flowering Fruit Trees in the Spring Season

    When the spring (Aviv) season arrives, a blessing is traditionally said when one is in view of at least two flowering fruit trees. In the northern hemisphere, it can be said anytime through the end of the month of Nissan (though it can still be said in Iyar). For those who live in the southern hemisphere, the blessing can be said during the month of Tishrei. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • פרק שירה | Perek Shirah (Chapter of Song), a hymn of creation

    פרק שירה | Perek Shirah (Chapter of Song), a hymn of creation

    Talmudic and midrashic sources contain hymns of the creation usually based on homiletic expansions of metaphorical descriptions and personifications of the created world in the Bible. The explicitly homiletic background of some of the hymns in Perek Shira indicates a possible connection between the other hymns and Tannaitic and Amoraic homiletics, and suggests a hymnal index to well-known, but mostly unpreserved, homiletics. The origin of this work, the period of its composition and its significance may be deduced from literary parallels. A Tannaitic source in the tractate Hagiga of the Jerusalem (Hag. 2:1,77a—b) and Babylonian Talmud (Hag. 14b), in hymns of nature associated with apocalyptic visions and with the teaching of ma’aseh merkaba serves as a key to Perek Shira’s close spiritual relationship with this literature. Parallels to it can be found in apocalyptic literature, in mystic layers in Talmudic literature, in Jewish mystical prayers surviving in fourth-century Greek Christian composition, in Heikhalot literature, and in Merkaba mysticism. The affinity of Perek Shira with Heikhalot literature, which abounds in hymns, can be noted in the explicitly mystic introduction to the seven crowings of the cock — the only non-hymnal text in the collection — and the striking resemblance between the …Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • תפילת טל | Prayer for Dew by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

    תפילת טל | Prayer for Dew by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

    Geshem and tal: rain and dew. We pray for each in its season, geshem all winter and tal as summer approaches...not everywhere, necessarily, but in the land of Israel where our prayers have their roots. In a desert climate, water is clearly a gift from God. It's easy for us to forget that, here with all of this rain and snow. But our liturgy reminds us. Through the winter months, during our daily amidah we've prayed "mashiv ha-ruach u-morid ha-gashem" -- You cause the winds to blow and the rains to fall! We only pray for rain during the rainy season, because it is frustrating both to us and to God when we pray for impossibilities. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞

Miscellaneous Liturgy & Related Work in the Open Siddur Archive

  • Prayer for Agunot by Shelley Frier List

    Prayer for Agunot by Shelley Frier List

    Creator of heaven and earth, may it be Your will to free the captive wives of Israel when love and sanctity have fled the home, but their husbands bind them in the tatters of their ketubot. Remove the bitter burden from these agunot and soften the hearts of their misguided captors. Liberate Your faithful daughters from their anguish. Enable them to establish new homes and raise up children in peace. Grant wisdom to the judges of Israel; teach them to recognize oppression and rule against it. Infuse our rabbis with the courage to use their power for good alone. Blessed are you, Creator of heaven and earth, who frees the captives. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • אשר יצר | Asher Yatzar prayer for recognizing the Divine Image in all our bodies by Emily Aviva Kapor

    אשר יצר | Asher Yatzar prayer for recognizing the Divine Image in all our bodies by Emily Aviva Kapor

    Asher Yatzar (the "bathroom blessing", traditionally said every morning and after every time one goes to relieve oneself) has always rung hollow to me, at best, and at worst has been a prayer not celebrating beauty but highlighting pain. The original version praises bodies whose nekavim nekavim ḥalulim ḥalulim ("all manner of ducts and tubes") are properly opened and closed—yes, in a digestive/excretory sense, but it is quite easy to read a reproductive sense into it as well. What do you do if the "ducts and tubes" in your body are not properly opened and closed, what if one is open that should be closed, or vice versa? . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • חב״ד | Siddur Torah Ohr:  the Nusaḥ Ha-ARI according to Rav Schneur Zalman of Lyadi

    חב״ד | Siddur Torah Ohr: the Nusaḥ Ha-ARI according to Rav Schneur Zalman of Lyadi

    When Rav Yiztḥak Luria, zt"l, also known as the Holy Ari, davvened in Eretz Yisroel he brought about a series of liturgical innovations witnessed in later siddurim. His particular nusaḥ bridged minhag Ashkenaz and minhag Sefarad (the customs of the Rheinland Jews and the customs of the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula) with the teachings of his school of Kabbalists. When two centuries later, the Ḥassidic movement blossomed in Eastern Europe, it found purchase in Lithuania among a mystical school centered around Rav Schneur Zalman of Lyady, the Alter Rebbe and founder of the ḤaBaD movement within Ḥassidism. The Alter Rebbe compiled his own siddur, the Siddur Torah Ohr, "according to the tradition of the Ari." . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Adventures in Ancient Jewish Liturgy: the Birkat Kohanim

    Adventures in Ancient Jewish Liturgy: the Birkat Kohanim

    The earliest artifacts recording Jewish liturgy (or for that matter any Hebrew formulation found in the Torah) are two small silver amulets, discovered in 1979 by Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay. He discovered the amulets in a burial chamber while excavating in Ketef Hinnom, a section of the Hinnom Valley south of Jerusalem's Old City. The inscriptions on these amulets conclude with parts of the Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing), the three-part blessing in which the Kohanim are instructed to bless the people of Israel in Numbers 6:22-27. The script in the amulets dates them approximately to the reign of King Yoshiyahu (late 7th or early 6th century BCE) predating the Nash papyrus, and the earliest of the Dead Sea Scrolls by four centuries. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Prayer for Entering the Knesset by Dr. Chaim Hames-Ezra

    Prayer for Entering the Knesset by Dr. Chaim Hames-Ezra

    May it be Your will, Lord our God, God of our fathers and mothers, that I leave this house as I entered it – at peace with myself and with others. May my actions benefit all residents of the State of Israel. May I work to improve the society that sent me to this chamber and cause a just peace to dwell among us and with our neighbors. May I always remember that I am a messenger of the public and that I must take care to keep my integrity and innocence intact. May I, and we, succeed in all our endeavors. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Prayer for the Interment of Shemot in a Geniza by Morah Yehudis Fishman

    Prayer for the Interment of Shemot in a Geniza by Morah Yehudis Fishman

    My bones whisper that your pages and your inks will return to the trees and the plants from where they once came. They say that someday they will even come back to life with words never yet heard. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • מודה אני | Modah/Modeh Ani (translation by Andrew Shaw)

    מודה אני | Modah/Modeh Ani (translation by Andrew Shaw)

    Thankful am I in your Presence, Spirit who lives and endures, for You've returned to me my soul with compassion. Abundant is your faith! . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • A Kavvanah for Crossroads: Triple Prayer for the Road by Yakov Green

    A Kavvanah for Crossroads: Triple Prayer for the Road by Yakov Green

    Yakov Green shares a short kavvanah (intention, meditation) which he wrote in Hebrew one morning at Beit Midrash Elul in Jerusalem. He later translated it into English. תפילת דרך משולשת | Triple Prayer for the Road . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ | Mi Sheberakh for Victims of Slavery by Rabbi Joshua Boettiger

    מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ | Mi Sheberakh for Victims of Slavery by Rabbi Joshua Boettiger

    We are grateful to Rabbi Joshua Boettinger and Rabbis for Human Rights--North America (RHR-NA) for sharing the following petitionary prayer, A Misheberakh for Victims of Slavery. Originally published by RHR-NA on their website in 2009, the prayer attends to the desperate need to eradicate all forms of slavery that persist today, especially in advance of the holiday celebrating our Z'man Cheruteinu, the season of our freedom, every Spring, every Pesaḥ. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • אל מלא רחמים | El Maleh Raḥamim (Prayer for the Departed) translated and sung by Effron Esseiva

    אל מלא רחמים | El Maleh Raḥamim (Prayer for the Departed) translated and sung by Effron Esseiva

    Almost two years ago my best friend passed away and I had the honour of chanting this maleh rachamim for him. In mid-May this year another friend approached me and said he really liked the way I did it at the time and could I record it for him because he was going to do it too for an unrelated unveiling. So, I recorded it on May 18, 2011. I didn't compose it. It's a traditional tune, but it's my voice and I hope someone else can perhaps learn it with this material. The more resource there are out there through means such as Open Siddur the better we can learn and share. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • The Limits of Liturgical Change: selections of halakhic discourse with translations by Rav Ethan Tucker (sourcesheet)

    The Limits of Liturgical Change: selections of halakhic discourse with translations by Rav Ethan Tucker (sourcesheet)

    A sourcesheet on the halakhic opinions and attitudes towards praying in languages besides Hebrew. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • The Last Tisha b’Av: A Tale of New Temples by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman

    The Last Tisha b’Av: A Tale of New Temples by Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow and Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman

    Long ago there came a Ḥassid, visiting from Vitebsk to see his Rebbe. Struggling up hills, over cobblestones, through narrow alleyways, the Ḥassid came panting, shaking, to the door of a pale and quiet synagogue. So pale, so quiet was this shul that the pastel paintings on the wall and ceiling stood out as though they were in vivid primary colors. As the Ḥassid came into the shul, he saw his Rebbe high on a make-shift ladder, painting a picture on the ceiling above the bimah. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • The Rainbow Haftarah by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

    The Rainbow Haftarah by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

    I call you to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze But the light in which all beings see each other fully. All different, All bearing One Spark. I call you to light a flame to see more clearly That the earth and all who live as part of it Are not for burning: A flame to see The rainbow in the many-colored faces of all life. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞

Research, Essays, and Articles on the Open Siddur and Open Source Judaism

  • Spiritual Alienation and the Siddur (Aharon Varady, 2009)

    Spiritual Alienation and the Siddur (Aharon Varady, 2009)

    Giving an individual a choice of how verses that are tripping them up are translated, or even how the ineffable name, YHVH, and other divine names in Hebrew are represented in a siddur, can make a difference in their experience of t'fillah (prayer) for someone engaging in individual or communal prayer. Giving someone a place to share their personally authored t’fillot, meditation or commentary, or else collaborate on a translation of a medieval piyut (liturgical poem) can connect Jews to each other in a meaningful way where before they were isolated in their passion and earnest devotion. Providing historical data revealing the siddur as an aggregate of thousands of years of creatively inspired texts can help a Jew understand that their creativity and contribution is also important in this enduring conversation. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • “Prayer Unbound” (Hadara Graubart, Tablet Magazine 2009)

    “Prayer Unbound” (Hadara Graubart, Tablet Magazine 2009)

    We're honored to have our project the focus of an article in Tablet. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞

"Impressió librorum". Engraving by Phillipus Galle of a drawing by Johannes Stradanus (Theodor Galle, Nova Reperta, Antwerp?, between 1590 and 1612?, No. 4. Madrid. ER/1605 National Library). This image has been significantly modified by Aharon Varady (license: CC-BY-SA).

“Impressió librorum”. Engraving by Phillipus Galle of a drawing by Johannes Stradanus (Theodor Galle, Nova Reperta, Antwerp?, between 1590 and 1612?, No. 4. Madrid. ER/1605 National Library). This image has been significantly modified by Aharon Varady (license: CC-BY-SA).

Imagine a printing press and book arts studio shared by everyone in the world looking to design and craft their own siddur.

The Open Siddur Project is building it, online, on the web: a collaborative digital-to-print publishing application where you can make your own siddur, share your work, and adopt, adapt, and redistribute work shared by others — work intended for creative reuse and inclusion in new siddurim and related works of Jewish spiritual practice.

Imagine an open studio built around privacy, collaboration, and a public database and digital library of Jewish liturgy in a format that can easily show historical variations and changes across Jewish traditions, manuscripts, and facsimile editions.

Imagine a collection of text and recordings, freely licensed for creative reuse in every language Jews pray in or have ever prayed. Reimagine your siddur, custom tailored to your practice, replete with your insights and those selected from your friends, family, and the complete corpus of Jewish tradition, and a record of your family’s and community’s minhagim and nusaḥ.

You can help us realize this vision…. ☞ Continue reading

Last updated: 2015-5-7 5:11


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