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Prayers, liturgy, and related work

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Meet Open Siddur contributor

Margot SeigleMargot Seigle

Margot is a queer, white, Ashkenazi Jew born and raised in Elgin, IL, where her Great Grandpa arrived three generations ago, and where her parents met at the synagogue her Great Grandpa started. Growing up with more than enough, she believes that we would all – even the 1%! – be better off if everyone had enough, and fights to shift this paradigm. An organizer at heart, she does this through supporting the leadership development of individuals and building collective energy and shared decision-making structures around projects that shift power and resources to those at the frontlines of injustice. Margot sees learning about the impacts of privilege and oppression as well as building tools to support the healing of this impact as crucial to being an effective change maker. She seeks to bring her values, skills, and networks to the Jewish community to thinking about what healing looks like with the complex history as well as expanding our concept of and strengthening our obligation to community. In her free time, Margot enjoys crafting, singing, fiddling, cooking, meditating, biking, and bringing people together. Margot is currently the Ḥazon Transformative Experiences Fellow based out of Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.

פסח | Seder in the Streets ֔Passover Haggadah, compiled by Danielle Gershkoff, Rachel Lerman, Rachel Beck, and Margot Seigle (5774/2014)

Spring Selections

  • 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. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞
  • 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 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. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞
  • 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. . . ☞
  • 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 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. . . ☞

Miscellaneous Liturgy & Related Work in the Open Siddur Archive

  • אלף באלול | The Council of All Beings on the New Years festival for Animals (ראש השנה לבהימות)

    אלף באלול | The Council of All Beings on the New Years festival for Animals (ראש השנה לבהימות)

    Domesticated animals (beheimot) are halakhically distinguished from ḥayot, wild animals in having been bred to rely upon human beings for their welfare. As the livelihood and continued existence of wild animals increasingly depends on the energy, food, and land use decisions of human beings, the responsibility for their care is coming into the purview of our religious responsibilities as Jews under the mitzvah of tsa'ar baalei ḥayyim -- mindfullness of the suffering of all living creatures in our decisions and behavior. Rosh Hashanah LeBeheimot is the festival where we are reminded of this important mitzvah at the onset of the month in which we imagine ourselves to be the flock of a god upon whose welfare we rely. The Council of All Beings is an activity that can help us understand and reflect upon the needs of the flock of creatures that already rely upon us for their welfare. . . .Continue Reading. . . ☞
  • פסח | The Other Side of the Sea: A Haggadah on Fighting Modern-Day Slavery by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

    פסח | The Other Side of the Sea: A Haggadah on Fighting Modern-Day Slavery by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

    “The wicked child asks: What does this work mean to you? Mah ha’avodah ha’zot lachem” (Exodus 12:26). I think about this question a great deal as a rabbi whose core work involves fighting modern-day slavery. I think about it when I talk to my children about what I do every day, when I call anti-trafficking activists and say, “What can rabbis do to support you?” or when I stand before Jewish audiences and urge them to put their energy behind this critical human rights issue. The answer must go deeper than simply saying, “We were slaves in Egypt once upon a time.” The memory of bitterness does not necessarily inspire action. What inspires me is not slavery but redemption. God could part the Sea of Reeds, but the Israelites could not truly be free until they had liberated themselves, after 40 years in the desert, from slavery. . . .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. . . ☞

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

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

    All of the individuals mentioned in this chapter—designers, bloggers and innovators—are engaged in a transformative endeavour. The digitization of seminal Jewish texts with the ability to remix, share and annotate them has changed the way in which they are perceived as texts. In the eyes of the Next Jew, these documents are no longer static artifacts to be passively consumed. They are vibrant, dynamic entities that grow with each user’s engagement. This engagement is also continual, ever-evolving and, though personal, also connects the individual to the broader Jewish learning community. In other words, every text is accompanied by a threaded discussion and more Jews are taking part, be it through creating their own religious texts or adding their voice to the emerging “Spoken Torah” of the Jewish blogosphere. Though Jewish community was historically maintained by the work of elites, be they the priests, soferim, or rabbis, the Next Jew no longer relies on scholars sequestered in yeshivas to carry the weight of the tradition. All one needs today is commitment and a stable Wi-Fi connection. . . .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 a social network focused on publishing 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: 2015-4-5 22:18


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