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The Koren Sacks Siddur is the first new Orthodox Hebrew/English siddur in a generation. The Siddur marks the culmination of years of rabbinic scholarship, exemplifies Koren's tradition of textual accuracy and intuitive graphic design, and offers an illuminating translation, introduction and commentary by one of the world's leading Jewish thinkers, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Halakhic guides to daily, Shabbat, and holiday prayers supplement the traditional text. Prayers for the State of Israel, its soldiers, and ...
The Koren Sacks Siddur is the first new Orthodox Hebrew/English siddur in a generation. The Siddur marks the culmination of years of rabbinic scholarship, exemplifies Koren's tradition of textual accuracy and intuitive graphic design, and offers an illuminating translation, introduction and commentary by one of the world's leading Jewish thinkers, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Halakhic guides to daily, Shabbat, and holiday prayers supplement the traditional text. Prayers for the State of Israel, its soldiers, and national holidays, for the American government, upon the birth of a daughter and more reinforce the Siddur's contemporary relevance. A special Canadian Edition is the first to include prayers for the Canadian government within the body of the text.
National Jewish Book Award Finalist, 2009
Posted June 26, 2009
The Koren Siddur
Reviewed by Israel Drazin
Most Jews read the siddur, a Hebrew word meaning "order," implying the order of prayers, with little or no comprehension of what they are reading. They are no different than Christians and Muslim. All fail to fulfill the purpose of prayer. The Hebrew word for prayer is tefillah, which is based on a root that means "to judge oneself." Prayer in Judaism is more than a petition, the basic meaning of the Latin and Greek word upon which "prayer" is based. It is a time of reflection, of inner judgment, of considering change and improvement.
The siddur is an anthology of widely divergent ideas that were composed by Jews - and non-Jews in some instances, like the ma tovu ohalekha prayer that is at the beginning of the siddur - with different ideologies over a long period of time. The siddur contains pieces from the Bible, such as Psalms, and poems written in the sixteenth century by mystics, such as the prayer welcoming the Sabbath called in Hebrew lecha dodi. By incorporating such a wide spectrum of views, the rational and the mystical, old and relatively new, Jews are capable, if they understand the prayers, to reflect on what is being said, the history of their religion, the concerns of its adherents, see if and how the prayers relate to their lives, and ask themselves whether the prayer they are reading can help them develop themselves and improve society.
Does the new Koren Siddur improve upon these matters and aid Jews in better understanding what they are reading?
The answer is an emphatic "yes." Indeed this is one of the primary purposes of the new siddur. It aids Jews in acquiring all of the above-mentioned benefits by its manner of presentation, its translations and its commentaries. The following innovations of this new siddur are a small sample of how this siddur enhances its users' period of prayer and their understanding of Judaism.
. Both the Hebrew and English are written with a beautiful font especially designed to enhance the siddur.
. There is a rational acceptance of the existence of the State of Israel and the United States, which is absent from the currently widely-used siddur. There are services for Yom Hazekaron, Israel's Memorial Day, Yom HaAtzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day, and for Yom Yerushalayim, the day commemorating the reunion of Israel's capital Jerusalem.
. Highly significant is the English translation and commentary of Sir Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the British Empire. Rabbi Sacks introduces the siddur with an instructive thirty-two page Understanding Jewish Prayer. Rabbi Sacks' English is impeccable, unlike the yeshiva-type English contained in the currently popular siddur.
. Unlike this currently popular siddur that openly promotes a mystical ideology and a world-view where God is present in everyday affairs and manipulates individuals, groups and nations like puppets to do His will, Sacks' translation and commentary is open-minded and reasonable.
This book should replace the currently-used siddur in synagogues.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of a series of books on the philosopher Moses Maimonides and a series of books on Targum Onkelos, the earliest currently existing translation of the Bible.
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Posted September 26, 2009
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Posted August 18, 2010
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