I’ve been sitting on and not reviewing my copy of purple Mishkan T’filah for Travelers, the first manageable-sized edition of MT, for months. In services on Friday night, in honor of some high school students shortly departing for a summer in Israel, the rabbi took the chance to do a little study of T’filah Haderech, the prayer for travelers, with the congregation.
To do this, she passed out papers with a copy of TH on it, which I thought was weird. I figured it must be in MT, so why should he use handouts. I couldn’t find it in MT. I couldn’t even find it in my copy of Mishkan T’filah for Travelers that I brought with me! I was incensed and ready to blog! Luckily, I waited and later found TH hiding in both editions among the “Prayers for our Community” section, which is fine, I guess. I would have hoped that in a volume titled “for Travelers” it might be printed on the inside cover for the easy use of the eponymous users. That would have been hoping too much.
Which brings me to the main question of the post: Why is it for travelers?
It’s standard these days to produce a small size of any siddur meant for mass consumption. Sim Shalom, ArtScroll, Koren, and even Haavodah Shebalev and Seder Hatefilot–Reform siddurim from abroad–come in pocket size editions. But do any of these receive the label “for travelers”? No. Siddur publishers generally understand that in the audience for every siddur there will be people who bring their own with them when they come to shul, in some cases everywhere they go. The know that there’s a general market of some size for every siddur for a pocket edition.
“But of course, who can imagine such a Reform Jew? Why would a Reform Jew want a little siddur?”
I know that some Reform Jews will buy this just because they want a little siddur, but I can’t imagine who the target audience of this slim siddur was supposed to be. If, as I assume the publishers assumed, no one would want this for daily use, who are these Reform Jews that don’t want a pocket siddur for daily use, but crave one for use while traveling? It makes no sense.
And, by the way, if you don’t know your way around MT already and you buy this to take with you to your Reform synagogue, you’ll be disappointed because they didn’t keep the same pagination!