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Meet Open Siddur contributor

Refoyl FinklRefoyl Finkl

Refoyl Finkl is an activist for the preservation of the Yiddish language, promoting its use and providing fonts, various texts, and tools for writing Yiddish in personal computers. At the University of Kentucky, Dr. Finkel Finkel teaches computer science. He earned his PhD in computer science at Stanford University under the supervision of Vinton Cerf.

Spring Selections

  • 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. . . ☞
  • A Prayer for Candle-lighting by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

    A Prayer for Candle-lighting by Chaya Kaplan-Lester

    Please God Let me light More than flame tonight. More than wax and wick and sliver stick of wood. More than shallow stream of words recited from a pocket book. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • שירת הים | The Song of the Sea, sung with a Moroccan Nusaḥ by R’ Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery

    שירת הים | The Song of the Sea, sung with a Moroccan Nusaḥ by R’ Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery

    According to Rabbinic tradition, the 21st of Nissan is the day in the Jewish calendar on which Pharaoh's army was drowned in the Sea of Reeds, and the redeemed children of Yisrael sang the Song of the Sea, the (Shirat Hayam, Exodus 15:1-19). The song, as included in the the morning prayers, comprises one of the most ancient text in Jewish liturgy. The 21st of Nissan corresponds to the 7th day of Passover, and the recitation of the Shirat HaYam is part of the daily Torah Reading. Rabbi Hillel Ḥayim Yisraeli-Lavery shares a performance of a melody he learned for the Shirat Hayam from צוף דבש Tzuf Devash, a Moroccan synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. If there is something about this tune that strikes one as particularly celebratory, it might be because the relationship between G!d and the Jewish people is traditionally described as a marriage consummated with the Covenant at Mt. Sinai. The passage of Bnei Yisrael through the Sea of Reeds towards Mt. Sinai thus begins a bridal march commencing in the theophany at Mt. Sinai, 42 days later. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • סדר ספירת העומר | the Order of Counting the Omer in the Spring

    סדר ספירת העומר | the Order of Counting the Omer in the Spring

    Each day between the beginning of Passover and Shavuot gets counted, 49 days in all, 7 weeks of seven days. That makes the omer period a miniature version of the Shmitta and Yovel (Jubilee) cycle of 7 cycles of seven years. Just as that cycle is one of resetting society's clock to align ourselves with freedom and with the needs of the land, this cycle too is a chance to align ourselves with the rhythms of spring and the spiritual freedom represented by the Torah. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • תפילה לפני קידושין | Prayer before Kiddushin for couples by Sarah Groner

    תפילה לפני קידושין | Prayer before Kiddushin for couples by Sarah Groner

    This prayer is based on the personal prayer said on holidays before Torah reading. The grammar has been adapted as plural rather than singular, so that the couple says the prayer together before their ritual of Kiddushin (betrothal). . . .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. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞
  • יום קשת מ״ב בעומר | The 42nd Day of the Omer is Rainbow Day

    יום קשת מ״ב בעומר | The 42nd Day of the Omer is Rainbow Day

    The time we are in now is a time to ask: are we so determined to undo God's rainbow covenant? Will we truly burn the sea, chemically and literally, with the oil we unleash from inside the Earth? Will we flood the sea with death as the land was flooded according to the Noah story of so long ago? As the cleanup continues and the effects will continue for decades, what new floods will we unleash in the coming years? . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • A Prayer for the Earth by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

    A Prayer for the Earth by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

    God of all spirit, all directions, all winds You have placed in our hands power unlike any since the world began to overturn the orders of creation. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Koaḥ

    Scaling the Walls of the Labyrinth: Psalms 67 and Ana b’Koaḥ

    Psalm 67 is a priestly blessing for all the peoples of the earth to be sustained by the earth's harvest (yevulah), and it is a petition that all humanity recognize the divine nature (Elohim) illuminating the world. Composed of seven verses, the psalm is often visually depicted as a seven branched menorah. There are 49 words in the entire psalm, and in the Nusaḥ ha-ARI z"l there is one word for each day of the Sefirat haOmer. Similarly, the fifth verse has 49 letters and each letter can be used as a focal point for meditating on the meaning of the day in its week in the journey to Shavuot, the festival of weeks (the culmination of the barley harvest), and the festival of oaths (shevuot) in celebration of receiving the Torah. Many of the themes of Psalm 67 are repeated in the prayer Ana b'Koaḥ, which also has 49 words, and which are also used to focus on the meaning of each day on the cyclical and labyrinthine journey towards Shavuot. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞

Miscellaneous Liturgy & Related Work in the Open Siddur Archive

  • 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. . . ☞
  • A Prayer for Health in Work by Rabbi Menachem Creditor

    A Prayer for Health in Work by Rabbi Menachem Creditor

    God, may my work feel redemptive even when an ocean of need feels like it will pull me down. May I feel the supported when I feel alone in my work. O God, remind me when I fail that I can learn, and that my life is more than my work. O God, remind me when I succeed that I can learn, and that deep success requires the efforts of many. May I remember that going home is a crucial part of the dream. God, help me to remember that I am one of the people I am called by You to serve. May I feel undivided as I transition from sphere to sphere, a whole person within Your world. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • ידיד נפש | Yedid Nefesh – You who love my soul (translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

    ידיד נפש | Yedid Nefesh – You who love my soul (translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi)

    You who love my soul Compassion's gentle source, Take my disposition and shape it to Your will. Like a darting deer I will flee to You. Before Your glorious Presence Humbly I do bow. Let Your sweet love Delight me with its thrill Because no other dainty Will my hunger still. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞

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

  • “Ten Commandments of Jewish Social Networking” (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles 2010)

    “Ten Commandments of Jewish Social Networking” (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles 2010)

    “The golden rule here is that when people share Torah,” said Aharon N. Varady, founder and director of the Open Siddur Project, “Torah is increased in the world.” In my interview with Jonah, I explained to him the teaching of the Sfas Emes, the Gerrer Rebbe Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter, who taught in his drash on parshat Terumah, the following.[ref]Translation is Rabbi Arthur Green's from The Language of Truth: The Torah Commentary of Sefat Emet (JPS 1998, p.121, copyright all rights reserved, and here quoted through Fair Use.[/ref] The Midrash Tanhuma quotes: "I have given you good lekaḥ (teaching)" (Proverbs 4:2). [Lekaḥ can also refer to something acquired by purchase.] It then offers a parable of two merchants, one who has silk and the other peppers. Once they exchange their goods, each is again deprived of that which the other has. But if there are two scholars, one who has mastered the Order of Seeds and the other who knows the Order of Festivals, once they teach each other, each has both orders. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞

"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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