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Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda's Book of Prayers for Jewish Women Hardcover – August 28, 2007

4.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dinah Berlan has given us a treasure. Her English rendering of Fanny Neuda's book of prayers for Jewish women is elegant as well as capable of opening hearts. It stirred mine."
--Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, coauthor of Jewish with Feeling

"Berland has been preparing all her life to re-create Fanny Neuda's deeply useful and soulful Hours of Devotion. She has given us a woman's book of illuminations, a compilation of prayers that moves from suffering to gratitude, a work that sanctifies life."
--Edward Hirsch, author of Lay Back the Darkness

"This rich, spiritually vital collection shines with integrity and wisdom. Contemporary Jewish life as a whole is immeasurably enriched by Berland's graceful restoration of Neuda's prayers--prayers that had long articulated the deep yearnings of Jewish women. A book every Jewish home should have, to be cherished and transmitted from generation to generation."
--Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, editor of Dancing on the Edge of the World

"Hours of Devotion is, among other splendid things, a book about fate: the fate of these prayers treasured by generations of Jewish women; the intersecting fates of Fanny Neuda and Dinah Berland, who has made the prayers available again; and how fate itself is shaped by prayer, which carries the wisdom of individuals and communities backwards and forwards through time. This is a remarkable book, one that will move the reader both to reflection and to prayer."
--Brigit Pegeen Kelly, author of The Orchard

About the Author

Dinah Berland is a poet whose work has appeared in The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, and The Iowa Review, among other journals and anthologies. She lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a book editor for the J. Paul Getty Museum. Visit her on the Web at www.dinahberland.com.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805242457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805242454
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a 55-year old Jewish woman with no formal instruction but a long personal reading list, I have been devouring Hours of Devotion since I purchased it. This volume speaks to my heart in so many ways, and the Introduction had me in tears.

This is, indeed, a work of beauty and depth. Over centuries, these women have worked to share it with the world. Don't miss it. Hours of Devotion will become part of your soul.

Arlene Ross
Miami, FL
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Format: Hardcover
It is obvious this woman loved G-D. I happened upon my copy at work. We have a "free" book table in the lunch room and I found it there or rather it found me, WHAT A TREASURE. I am never letting it out of my sight! Fanny was very insightful in her prayers and I am glad that the woman who compiled this book allowed a new genration to share what previous generations had the opportunity to partake of whil maitaining the integrity of the book in the updated version. When sometimes in prayer I am at a loss for what to say, I find Fanny's eloquent expressions in prayer wonderfuly assist me.
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Format: Hardcover
Dinah Berland's lovely translation of Fanny Neuda's prayers has indeed provided a window into the heart of her sisters. These prayers are so beautifully moving that they will most certainly speak to you in a very personal way - even if you are not Jewish nor religious! This very much surprised me! The preface is a must-read as it provides the fascinating background to the life of Fanny Neuda and the book's evolution.
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Format: Hardcover
As an avid reader of Judaica, I have a special liking for women's prayer books. Poet Dinah Berland happened upon an unknown author's Hours of Devotion in a used book store in LA. Having just been estranged from her son, Berland connected to "A Mother's Prayer Whose Child Is Abroad" and bought the book. She loved the book, loved the prayers, and began to use it every day - morning and evening.

Miracles began occurring. Her son Adam reappeared in her life; she joined a wonderful new synagogue; and Berland just kept thinking about updating Hours Of Devotion. But first she needed to know the author. She turned to a colleague and bibliographer who uncovered the name of Fanny Neuda (1819-1894), wife of a Moravian rabbi, whose story is as interesting as the prayers.

Fanny Neuda was a brillaint rebbitzen who wrote an essay regarding the importance of religious education and the understanding of the Hebrew language to young women and published two volumes of short children's stories. She married a progressive rabbi and scholar, Abraham Neuda, who passed away in 1854, leaving Fanny a young widow and mother.

In 1855, with the support of Baroness Louise von Rothschild, Neuda published the first edition of Hours of Devotion. The book was immediately acclaimed, and the original version remained continuously in print through a 28th edition published around 1918.

This volume was considered "'the authoritative women's prayer book of its time.'" It was republished in a newly edited edition by Martha Wertheimer in 1936 Frankfurt and remained in print in Switzerland until 1968. This book survived concentration camps and great diaspora, passed hand to hand by Jewish women in hiding.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not Jewish, nor am I even religious, but these beauitful poems inspire and encourage, no matter your faith. This new translation of little-known prayers luminously come alive for the reader through Berland's skill with the sheer power of words. The poems are applicable to anyone, but particularly for women, and on any occasion. Let the beauty of the prayers wash over you, providing a deep sense of solace and peace.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book I have found so meaningful I gave it as a gift to Jewish women who have especially touched my life. It offers prayers for Jewish occasions, for occasions traditional Jewish liturgy doesn't address (including childbirth!), prayers for women, prayers for both men and women. In today's world, in which men aren't "precluded" from opening their hearts, many of the prayers originally written for women may be equally meaningful for men. As a woman, I find meaning in every prayer - even if the title doesn't suggest that it would be relevant to me (I'm not a mother, for example).

Dinah Berland's introduction is just wonderful. It reminds me of a challah, in the way that it interweaves three stories: Dinah Berland's story, Fanny Neuda's story, and an overview of early modern Jewish history. It's dazzling, really.

September 10 post-script: I received the following words of thanks from my Aunt Matilda in Nashville, TN:
Many, many thanks for Hours of Devotion. It fills a much-needed place in life. It will be part of my days from now on.
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Format: Hardcover
Thank you so much for your profound and touching book, Dinah. The day after I acquired it, I put it to "divine use." My childhood girlfriend went under the knife to have a breast removed and just before they took her to the operating room, I was able to read her the specific prayer about someone going through a serious illness. It was like a healing balm. It give her such great comfort--because it simultaneously addressed her anger, her confusion,and her "why me?" monologue. She sobbed while I was reading it, and then thanked me sincerely. It was just what she needed.

When we ourselves may not have the perfect words of comfort to extend to our family and friends, Hours of Devotion can offer us just the right prayer for just the right moment, a prayer both honest and hopeful.
Thank you!
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