|How the Transliterated Siddur Got Started|
|Written by Jordan Lee Wagner|
|Tuesday, 04 February 1997 19:00|
A 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.
The reorganized and expanded version of that orientation letter has recently been published as "The Synagogue Survival Kit". That book is addressed to:
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|
How the Transliterated Siddur Got Started
Jun 14 2012 20:46:20
I'm going to purchase your "The Synagogue Survival Kit" -- Although I read and speak Modern Hebrew and know many of the prayers, I cannot daven "fast enough" strictly in Hebrew. I would like to encourage you to also publish your transliterated siddur as a book. You deserve to be compensated and an interlinear siddur with transliteration would be a more dignified presentation in a book form. I know it would sell well. Artscroll has one but it has the Ashkenaz pronunciation. Please advise. and Yasher Koach.
Re:How the Transliterated Siddur Got Started
Jun 14 2012 23:26:52
Thank you for your kind words. Back in 1994, when "The Synagogue Survival Kit" manuscript was finished, my publisher did not want the transliteration, although I had included it in the manuscript of that work.
I then offered it to all the major siddur publishers, none of whom had a transliterated siddur back then. Every one of them turned it down.
Some couldn't see the need for a siddur with transliteration, which amazed and frustrated me.
Others (e.g., Chabad) were already planning to write one, but wanted their own particular pronunciation.
And some (e.g., Art Scroll) objected to the entire enterprise on philosophical grounds. They felt it would send a bad message: that learning Hebrew was not necessary.
My how times have changed! Now everybody has a transliterated Siddur. But I still think the choices I made (regarding hyphenation, accented syllables, color-coding, and avoiding scientific precision in favor of naturalness for English speakers) makes "Siddur Ba-Eir Hei-Teiv --- The Transliterated Siddur" still the best for its intended purpose.
Had there been ANY transliterated Siddur in existence back in 1991, I'd not have bothered writing mine. Life's too short to spend it reinventing the wheel.
With two four-year-old kids, and a baby due in August, I'm not about to start new big projects. However, I'm still happy to license the transliterations to anyone who wants to make a printed Siddur.
By the way, although not yet posted on this site, I've got a lot of the High Holy Days done. Maybe I'll have time to add some of that before Rosh Hashanah this year.