Siddur/Jewish Prayer Class Begins February 25th!

Jewish Education Course:

Opening the Jewish Treasure Chest: The Siddur.

On alternate Shabbat afternoons starting February 25th at my home, 1:30-3:00 pm. Please RSVP via email or phone!

Introduction:

It might be said that whereas the Torah is Judaism’s most important "book," the Siddur is every Jew’s most important book. It contains, in carefully organized structure ("Siddur," from the same root as "Seder," means "order"), the most important ideas and expressions of Jewish history, philosophy, aspirations, fears, and spirituality.

Course Objectives:

Participants will learn about many aspects of Judaism by examining the content, organization, and evolution of the Siddur. We will explore many questions related to Jewish prayer and spirituality (including historical perspectives), such as:

What is prayer? What is it "supposed" to be and to do? Should we pray if we don’t believe in God?

Is there a set structure to Jewish prayer services? If so, who set it, what is its purpose, and what should we "feel" as we go through it? Are Shabbat prayers different from others? If so, how and why?

What do the prayers actually mean (are the translations in our prayerbooks accurate?) Do we believe what we say (in Hebrew or in transliteration?) What "should" we think about as we say them? What did the rabbis intend when they wrote them?

What’s different about Miskan T’filah (the current Reform prayerbook) from Gates of Prayer (the previous version), and why were changes made?

How are prayers of other Jewish movements different? What might we learn from them?

If we were to write our own personal siddur, drawing from traditional concepts but saying what speaks to us, what might we say?

What can the siddur teach us about Jewish history, theology, ethics, and other subjects?

Materials/activities:

Required: Any new or old "complete" or Weekday Hebrew and English Orthodox or Conservative Siddur. (Note: Reform siddurim are too heavily abridged, and Shabbat/holiday siddurim are too specialized for our purposes. However, both may be useful for comparison).

Three suitable examples are:

Siddur Kol Yaakov/The Complete Artscroll Siddur – Nusach Ashkenaz. ISBN: 0-89906-650-X

Siddur Simchas Yehoshua/The Artscroll Interlinear Siddur for Weekdays. ISBN 1-57819-677-9

[Both of the above available from http://www.artscroll.com/siddur.htm. ]

Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays. Rabbinical Assembly, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. ISBN-0-916219-14-3

Recommended:

Any of innumerable books about Jewish prayer. I will be happy to make specific recommendations based upon your specific interests (history, literal meanings of prayers, sources of prayers, etc.)

One particularly accessible, multi-disciplinary source is the ten-volume set "My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ed., Jewish Lights Publishing. http://www.jewishlights.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?

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  • Siddur/Jewish Prayer Class Begins February 25th!

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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3