בסיעתא דשמיא

 

Prayers, liturgy, and related work

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Meet Open Siddur contributor

Abe KatzAbe Katz

Abe Katz is the director of the Burei HaTefila Institute.
The Beurei Hatefila Institute was established in order to encourage the study of the words of the Siddur as a Jewish text in Jewish schools. To assist educators developing courses on Tefila, the Institute publishes a weekly e-mail newsletter in which it traces the sources for the words and structure of the prayers within the Siddur. These and other resources can be downloaded on PDF from the Burei HaTefila Institute website.

Mr. Katz is also available to teach courses on Tefila at your synagogue or Jewish Community Center and as a scholar-in-residence. He is available to meet with school administrators to assist them in establishing a course in Beurei Hatefila at their schools and to train teachers on using Hebrew-English word processing and Judaic libraries on CD-ROM.

After Shaḥarit: Abiding Advice for Daily Living by Eliyahu Carmi (1767) translated by Abe Katz

Summer Selections

  • 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. . . ☞
  • תשעה באב | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha B’Av by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

    תשעה באב | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha B’Av by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

    The idea that tragedy and disaster are punishment for our sins is alien to most most modern Jews. The author(s) of Eikhah believed that what happened to Zion was divine punishment. (This is one reason why it is hard to connect the Holocaust with what we mourn on Tish’a B’av.) Besides the obvious consolation of believing that the tragedy had meaning, the reader might also consider that for the ancients, the two choices were to believe that the destruction was punishment, or that God simply had no interest in them. It is easy to imagine why people would choose the image of a punishing God over the complete absence of God – though the latter possibility is suggested in the very last line of the text, before we go back to repeat the more comforting line “Turn us...” . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • הרחמן | Haraḥaman, Prayer to the merciful One for the Shmita Year, R”H seder additions, and other liturgical tweaks by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

    הרחמן | Haraḥaman, Prayer to the merciful One for the Shmita Year, R”H seder additions, and other liturgical tweaks by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

    This Haraḥaman (prayer to the merciful or compassionate One) for the Shmitah or sabbatical year can be added to Birkat Hamazon (blessing after meals) during the whole Shmitah year, in order to remember and open our hearts to the sanctity of the land. Say it right before the Harachaman for Shabbat, since Shmitah is the grand shabbat, and right after the paragraph beginning with Bamarom (a/k/a, Mimarom). . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Life Sentence by Eprhyme

    'Life Sentence' is a poetic exploration of solitary authorship — interpreting the old-world literary tradition and archetypes for the 'ADD' generation. This is a boundary and genre-crossing work that exists at the intersection of Radical Jewish, Indy and Hip-Hop culture. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • קינות לתשעה באב | Alelai Li: Woe is me! by Elazar ben Killir, circa 7th century CE (translated by Rachel Salston)

    “Alelai Li” is a kinah recited on the morning of Tisha bAv. It was written by HaKalir around the 7th century. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 17 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem and is an onomatopoeic whimper (try saying it aloud, focusing on the alliteration). It is difficult to translate the opening word “im” which means “if” or “should”. This is an allusion to Job 10:15, “If I have done evil, then woe unto me.” I have decided to translate the kinah not in the conditional tense (which would render “If these horrible things happened, then woe is me!”) but as a lament upon memory; however, the former would be a more accurate (if not more awkward in English) translation. Adding to the awkwardness of the poem’s language is the feminine conditional verb that each line has after the word “im”. I have maintained this strange verb tense and placement in my translation by using the English progressive tense. The kinah ends with a collection in lines in a different meter suggesting that the Holy One (and the paytan himself) is angered that the Jewish people announce their sufferings but …Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • תהילים כט | Psalms 29, an interpretive translation by Avi Dolgin

    תהילים כט | Psalms 29, an interpretive translation by Avi Dolgin

    Avi Dolgin's translation of תהילים כט (Psalm 29) interweaves between the original Hebrew (הָב֣וּ לַֽ֭יהוָה בְּנֵ֣י אֵלִ֑ים | havu l’YHVH b’nei eilim) and an English language interpretation. The interpretation, while faithful to the original, leans heavily on environmental concerns, especially as seen from a North American West Coast perspective. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Prayer for the State of Israel by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

    Prayer for the State of Israel by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

    Sovereign of the Universe, accept in lovingkindness and with favor our prayers for the State of Israel, her government and all who dwell within her boundries and under her authority. Reopen our eyes and our hearts to the wonder of Israel and strengthen our faith in Your power to work redemption in every human soul. Grant us also the fortitude to keep ever before us those ideals to which Israel dedicated herself in her Declaration of Independence, so that we may be true partners with the people of Israel in working toward her as yet not fully fulfilled vision. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞
  • קינות לתשעה באב | Oy Meh Haya Lanu: Oy What Has Happened to Us, by Baruch ben Samuel d.1221 (translated by Rachel Salston)

    “Oy Meh Haya Lanu” is a kinah traditionally recited on the night of Tisha b'Av directly after the reading of Eikha. According to the Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot, it is number 1 of 50. The title is the refrain of the poem, a reflective lament. This kinah is based on the fifth and final chapter of Eikha, taking the opening phrase of each line of the megillah as the first line of each couplet and poetically expanding the description for the second. This translation is an attempt to convey the vulgarity and horror of the paytan’s depiction of the destroyed Jerusalem in vernacular English. The kinah ends just as the megillah ends, with the four verses of pleas for redemption. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • שלום | Peas on Earth (from the Teva educators Fall 2010)

    SAVE/PRINT/EMAIL THIS PAGE → (PDF) Peas on Earth (everybody now) Peas on Earth — you’ve got to Grab a fork and lettuce work For Peas on Earth Come animals and pea-ple, each and every one Let’s start a revolution, powered by the sun Bees and worms and unicorns, every human bean We’ll sow the seeds . . .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. . . ☞
  • ט״ו באב | The Fruit of Tu B’Av: explanation and ritual for the 15th of Av by R’ Jill Hammer

    ט״ו באב | The Fruit of Tu B’Av: explanation and ritual for the 15th of Av by R’ Jill Hammer

    Tu B’Av, the fifteenth of the month of Av, comes in July or August, at a time when the air is sweltering, the sun is ever-present, and the green plant life is wilting. In Israel, Av is a month of extreme heat when nothing grows. It comes just six days after the 9th of Av, Tisha B’Av, the holiday of mourning, when the Temple is destroyed, when the Shekhinah grieves like a widow who has lost her mate. The first of Tammuz, when we recognize our exile and mortality, lingers in the heat of the air. Yet Tu B’Av is a holiday of dancing and choosing lovers, a holiday of life. It is a turning around of time. It is the moment when the fallen fruit breaks open to reveal the new seed. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Kavvanah for Honest Journal Reflections

    Kavvanah for Honest Journal Reflections

    May my thoughts seek truth and integrity, the humility that is commensurate with my ignorance, the compassion that arises from the depths of awareness, as depths speak to depths... . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • קינות לתשעה באב | Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu: Then As Jeremiah Went, by Elazar ben Killir circa 7th century CE (translated by Gabriel Seed)

    קינות לתשעה באב | Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu: Then As Jeremiah Went, by Elazar ben Killir circa 7th century CE (translated by Gabriel Seed)

    Az Bahalokh Yirmiyahu is a kinah, “based on Eikhah Rabati Petikhta 24, in which Jeremiah says to God: "I am like a father who prepared to take his only son to be married, and the son tragically died under the wedding canopy. Do you not feel any pain for me or for my son?" God responds: "Go and rouse Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses from their graves, for they know how to cry…” (Daniel Goldschmidt, Seder Kinot le-Tisha b'Av, Jerusalem, 1972, 98). . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • תשעה באב | Prayer for Tisha B’Av by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

    תשעה באב | Prayer for Tisha B’Av by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman)

    During the time before there was a State of Israel, those ideals in our hearts which we tried to practice and which we wanted others to practice, seemed not achievable where we were because, we felt we had no influence over our world where we were. And so, the longing for our homeland was tied into the longing for our dreams and our vision. Now that the state of Israel is with us, our dreams and our visions still remain distant from our lives and therefore when we say the Tisha B'av prayers we need to remind ourselves of the distance between that which we would have in this world and that which we do have. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞

Miscellaneous Liturgy & Related Work in the Open Siddur Archive

  • 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. . . ☞
  • Transition Ritual Poems by Joy Ladin

    Transition Ritual Poems by Joy Ladin

    The transition ritual poems below are an effort to hear in the Torah the voices of the various parts of the trans self calling one another toward wholeness. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Returning the body to the soul: an adaptation of Moshe ibn Makhir’s Modeh Ani

    Returning the body to the soul: an adaptation of Moshe ibn Makhir’s Modeh Ani

    Last year around this time, I was sitting with Ya'qub ibn Yusuf in his bookstore, Olam Qatan (54 Emek Refaim in South Jerusalem), asking if he might share some useful practice that I might share through the Open Siddur Project. He offered this thought which he had heard from someone else: I have difficulty with the idea of thanking G!d for "returning my soul to me" sheheḥezarta bi nishmati while I'm still endeavoring to remain in touch with my dreams. So I much prefer what someone else suggested, that instead of saying nishmati (my soul), to say instead han'shamati (the embodiment of my soul). I thank G!d for returning me to my body -- my soul was never missing. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • A Kavanah for Erev Shabbat HaAviv by Rabbi Yaakov Reef

    A Kavanah for Erev Shabbat HaAviv by Rabbi Yaakov Reef

    In the year 5775 (2015), the vernal equinox coincided with Rosh Ḥodesh Nissan, the Hebrew month known also as Aviv (Spring), as well as the onset of Shabbat, and a total solar eclipse. Here is a short meditation to receive the shabbat in embrace of the new season. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Rules of Etiquette for Public Prayer by Isaac Seligman Baer

    Rules of Etiquette for Public Prayer by Isaac Seligman Baer

    The impetus for writing this monograph came from a long-time observation that most worshipers and, by extension Shalechei Tzibur [prayer leaders], are either generally unaware of certain basic Laws regarding Public Prayer and Conduct in the Synagogue or simply lax in their proper observance. As such, I felt that there is a need to refresh in the minds of the general public certain fundamental regulations in these areas. I have chosen to translate the prefatory pages relating to these matters from the classic Siddur Avodas Yisroel by Dr. Seligmann Baer, published in Rödelheim in 1868. His summary is terse, yet comprehensive, and very closely aligned with the accepted Halochoh. Although, in those instances where there is a difference from commonly accepted practice and custom, I have tried to augment his text with instructions found in the popular Siddur Tefilas Kol Peh (TKP, Shaliach Tzibur edition, published by Eshkol, Jerusalem, and which was prepared in accordance with the Mishne Berura) and other sources. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • A Prayer for Gaza’s Children by Bradley Burston (2008)

    Lord who is the creator of all children, hear our prayer this accursed day. God whom we call Blessed, turn your face to these, the children of Gaza, that they may know your blessings, and your shelter, that they may know light and warmth, where there is now only blackness and smoke, and a cold which cuts and clenches the skin. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • קדיש | Pulp Kaddish by Reb Jules Winnfield

    קדיש | Pulp Kaddish by Reb Jules Winnfield

    Tired of people who can’t tell their kiddish (blessings for the Sabbath) from their kaddish (prayer for the dead)? Well, it sets Samuel L. Jackson off too! But he found a way of making a bracha (blessing) and mourning the dead at the same time. Now I can’t vouch for the origins of his nusaḥ (custom) but it sounds very effective! Most people haven’t noticed, the only real part from the Bible is that last section, the first part is actually his own spiel: . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • ברכת המזון | Thanks for the Food, the Birkat Hamazon by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

    ברכת המזון | Thanks for the Food, the Birkat Hamazon by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

    We do this to fulfill Your command which states: “Eat Your fill praising Adonai your God for the earthy goodness which the Almighty so freely gave to you.” . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Siddur Class: Sourcesheets from Amit Gvaryahu’s Shiur on Tefillah

    We are grateful to Amit Gvaryahu for sharing his sourcesheets for his Siddur class at Yeshivat Hadar's 90@190 Open Beit Midrash this past summer 5771/2011, and for sharing his translations with a CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported license. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • קדיש | Kaddish freely translated by Alan Wagman

    קדיש | Kaddish freely translated by Alan Wagman

    This is an English language interpretation of Kaddish, intended to capture the spirit of translations/interpretations that I have seen in various sources and also to capture the sound and rhythm of the Aramaic text, including syllables which, when read simultaneously with the Aramaic, rhyme with the Aramaic. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Prayer for the Government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by Kahal Kadosh-Beit Shalome (1789)

    Prayer for the Government in honor of George Washington, First President of the United States of America by Kahal Kadosh-Beit Shalome (1789)

    The following prayer for the government was composed by Congregation Beth Shalome in Richmond, Virginia in 1789. Please note the acrostic portion of the prayer in which the initial letters of the succeeding lines form the name: Washington. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Blessing Group Torah Study with Brakhot, Kaddish, and Kavvanah by Arthur Waskow

    What the Rabbis taught about teaching and learning was that all Torah study should begin and end with blessings, just as eating does. Often, in liberal Jewish circles today, these blessings are not done. But without them, it is easier for Torah study to feel like a mere academic discussion, devoid of spirit. And where the blessings are said but only by rote, it is easier for Torah study to feel merely antiquarian and automatic. In Jewish-renewal style, how can we bring new kavvanah --- spiritual meaning, intention, focus, intensity -- to these blessings -- and therefore to the process of Torah study itself? . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire (trans. Rabbi Simeon Singer, 1890)

    The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire (trans. Rabbi Simeon Singer, 1890)

    Before the Koren-Sacks Siddur (2009), there was the Authorised Daily Prayer Book first published in 1890 and used by Jews throughout the British Empire, while there was a British Empire. It was originally published under the authorization of Great Britain's first Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler with a Hebrew liturgy based on Isaac Seligman Baer's Seder Avodat Yisroel (1868). The translation by Rabbi Simeon Singer (1846-1906) was the most extensive English translation of the Siddur ever published, and for this reason most editions are simply referred colloquially as The Singer Siddur. The Standard Prayer Book, published by Bloch in 1915, was an American reprint of The Authorized Daily Prayer Book. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞

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

  • Jewish Content, Free Culture and “Content Compatibility” by Efraim Feinstein

    Jewish Content, Free Culture and “Content Compatibility” by Efraim Feinstein

    The free culture community has developed mechanisms to make sharing and collaborative development easier. The principles that define works of free culture are: the freedom to use the work and enjoy the benefits of using it the freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it the freedom to make and redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression the freedom to make changes and improvements, and to distribute derivative works Note that these freedoms do not discriminate on the basis of endeavor, and all free culture works allow creation of derivative works and commercial use. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • A Case Study on the Open Siddur Project by Gabrielle Girau Pieck (University of Basel, 2014)

    A Case Study on the Open Siddur Project by Gabrielle Girau Pieck (University of Basel, 2014)

    The shift is not just about going electronic. It is about how the electronic form of the siddur is allowing for new theological functions. Like religious authority, where digital media can be used to either reinforce traditional forms or open up new landscapes for alternative visions of leadership, the Internet also offers both possibilities regarding the siddur, one of the most precious ritual objects in Judaism. The Open Siddur Project, as its name implies, is aiming to open up previous conceptions of the siddur by shaping and fine-tuning the possibilities of the Internet to make the siddur accessible and personalized for everyone. . . .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: 2015-7-26 15:02


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