44 and more old sidurim!

Today is the 44th day of the Omer.

I’ve been in touch with Rabbi Dr. Richard S. Sarason off and on recently, asking questions about liturgy. He suggested that I might like it if he sent me the course packets for an upcoming class he’s teacheing at HUC on the evolution of Reform liturgy. I suggested that I would probably like that very much. He dropped it in the mail and it arrived yesterday in the form of a large manilla envelope full of five large packets.

One packet has a selecetion of the Kriat Shma rubric from a selection of Reform sidurim, the next packet has a selection of Amidahs, the third has a selection of Reform triennial cycles, the fourth contains Reform treatments of Aleinu, and the final packet contains Kadish Yatoms.

The sidruim represented include the 1819 and 1845 Hamburg Temple Sidur; the 1841(?) West London Synagogue Sidur; 1848 and 1895 editions of a Berlin sidur; Abraham Geiger’s 1854 Breslau sidur; a 1929 sidur from Frankfurt am Main (same publisher as one of these); Rabbi Merzbacher’s 1855 New York Temple Emanu-El sidur and an 1864 revision of the Temple Emanu-El sidur; the 1872 2nd edition of Minhag America; an 1896 English translation from the German sidur Olat Tamid by David Einhorn; 1892, 1905, 1936, and 1959 editions of the Union Prayer Book. Also included were selections from Gates of Prayer (Big Blue and Gates of Gender) as well as Mishkan Tefilah, all three of which I already own.

On a really fun note, the first edition of the Union Prayer Book has a hand-written note on it’s inside front cover from an unidentified person to another unidentified person. The note says, “To the Master of American Judaism, the Father of the Union of Hebrew Congregations, and the Founder of the Union Hebrew College, from the maker of this Union Prayer Book as a [the rest of the note is totally illegible, including the signature at the bottom.]” Anyway, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a note from one of the original editors of the UPB to Isaac Mayer Wise, eight years from death when UPB was published.

And now, the Omer:

5 Responses to 44 and more old sidurim!

  1. Harold June 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    Very cool stuff.

  2. Randi June 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    I’m so envious. I’d love to study that material! Although, even if I had it, I don’t know when I’d have the time to really look at it. This pesky career takes up so much time….got a stack of professional reading to catch up on before I can indulge in more Judaica.

    So please keep posting about it. Enjoyed the post two days ago about the changing of the V’ahavta in that Progressive siddur. I’m curious…are you as put off by the Movement’s changing of the YK parsha to Nitzavim as you are by it’s inclusion as part of the v’ahavta?

  3. David A.M. Wilensky June 3, 2008 at 5:44 pm #

    All I can say about your envy, Randi, is keep your RSS reader tuned to The Reform Shuckle. I am bound to finish up with the WUPJ service, which is staring at my from this very desk right now, eventually. And after that, it’s on to my new old sidurim.

    As for the issue of the Reform movement messing about with Torah portions, I don’t really know enough about that area to have an opinion on it. Maybe you could enlighten me.

  4. davidamwilensky June 3, 2008 at 6:28 pm #

    Rabbi Sarason wrote an email to me today:

    The Berlin pbs are from the Berlin Reformgemeinde, the most radical of Reform congregations in Germany, formed in 1846 as the Society for Reform in Judaism–Samuel Holdheim became their rabbi, but these first prayerbooks were all lay-created.
    The inscription to Isaac Mayer Wise in the very first UPB is from Isaac S. Moses, who was the editor/compiler of that first version (withdrawn a year later so that Einhorn’s sons-in-law, Kaufmann Kohler and Emil G. Hirsch, could be brought into the process). The portion of the inscription that you couldn’t decipher reads, “as a sign of highest esteem and grateful love. Isaac S. Moses” Notice that Moses uses a piyyut-like rhetoric by putting the word “Union” at the head of each item: “Union of Hebrew Congregations,” “Union Hebrew College,” “Union Prayer Book.” Two big egos dancing around each other!
    This was Wise’s own copy, elegantly bound, and presented to him by Moses, which now resides in our Rare Book Room (on lengthy loan to my office shelf).


  1. 49 and done! « - June 7, 2008

    […] way of a post for today, I’ll continue my chain of recent posts about new acquisitions. I was at Half Price Books today. I looked through the Judaica section, as […]