Siddur Ba-eir Hei-teiv --- The Transliterated Siddur

How the Transliterated Siddur Got Started Print E-mail
Written by Jordan Lee Wagner   
Tuesday, 04 February 1997 19:00

Jordan Lee Wagner, Author of The Synagogue Survival KitA non-Jewish friend who was considering becoming Jewish was tempted to attend a synagogue service. I knew that an unprepared solo visit to a traditional service would be confusing. Although there are many books on the historical development of the liturgy, and many books of insights into the prayers, I found none that could function as a survival kit for those disoriented at a traditional synagogue service.

I set out to write my friend an "orientation letter" to make initial attendance comfortable and intelligible.  This letter developed into a lengthy document, plus a complete transliterated siddur for Friday evening and Saturday morning.  I also gave a few copies to individuals who seemed lost at services.  Awareness of the letter spread by word of mouth, and requests for copies began to come from many places.  I was happy to comply, but eventually I was unable to keep up.  I made a proposal to a major Jewish book publisher and they bought it. 

sskcoverThe reorganized and expanded version of that orientation letter has recently been published as "The Synagogue Survival Kit".  That book is addressed to:

  • Jews by Choice, and potential Jews by Choice
  • Jews by Birth, rediscovering their tradition from an adult perspective
  • Russian Jews, deprived of access to their heritage
  • Female Jews, many of whom were not taught about congregational prayer as children

It may also interest non-Jews that participate in some of the life-cycle events of their Jewish friends.  It enables them to appreciate what they witness in a synagogue.  A detailed description of that book and an author profile is available on the Web.  "The Synagogue Survival Kit" can be found in local bookstores, or ordered from on-line bookstores, or ordered directly.

My publisher decided not to incorporate my Transliterated Siddur into The Synagogue Survival Kit.  So I have converted the Transliterated Siddur to web pages and here it is!  Individuals may print or download my transliterations and use them as a companion to The Synagogue Survival Kit, or as a companion to your Hebrew-English Siddur, or you can just visit this site for occasional reference.  I hope it is helpful.  

If the spirit moves you, feel free to make a donation "in appreciation for The Transliterated Siddur" to my synagogue:  The Adams Street Synagogue, 168 Adams Street, P.O. Box 600371, Newtonville MA 02460 (U.S.A.). 

Please do not redistribute or modify my transliterations, nor remove my copyright notices, nor incorporate the transliterations into another work.  For permission to do these things, see my Special Publishing Agreements and Distribution Agreements

There is a Torah prohibition called hasagath gvul ( literally: "moving a [ neighboring farmer's ] boundary marker" --- found at Deuteronomy 27:17 ).  This commandment is understood and applied very broadly by the sages of our shared tradition, such that Judaism prohibits using or citing the intellectual efforts of another person without giving them credit. 

There is also a Jewish legal principle called dina d'malchut dina ( literally: "the law of the king is the Law" ) which makes adherance to some portions of secular law --- including secular copyright law --- mandatory under Jewish Law.  

The classic Talmudic example used to demonstrate that a mitzvah may not be performed via a transgression is the example of someone praying in stolen t'fillin.   This legal principle may also apply to using the transliterations without permission.  Thank you for respecting my copyright.  

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 January 2010 22:20

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