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Sh'ma': A Concise Weekday Siddur For Praying in English Paperback – September 21, 2010
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About the Author
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, better known as Reb Zalman, is the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement and is widely considered one of the world's foremost authorities on Hasidism and Kabbalah.
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Reb Zalman has taken the traditional 3 times a day prayer service and chosen the meatier prayers to be part of each service time i.e. Morning, Afternoon and Evening prayers. For instance, the afternoon prayer time is the shortest and contains the Ashrei, Amidah & Aleinu prayers (in English) and that's it. Not very cumbersome at all. And when any of these prayers are repeated in the Morning or Evening the pray is reprinted again in it's own section. There is no need to use an index or flip back pages to look for the prayer in another part of the book. I like that.
While the book is limited and not meant to include every prayer you'd find in a larger Siddur (and I like that too), the author's choice of prayers is well chosen including but not limited to; the morning "Modah Ani" prayer and the Evening "Ribbono shel Olam" prayer and more. Even though this book has only 71 pages Zalman efficiently includes over a dozen Psalms in addition to an appropriate Psalm for each day of the week. And, I unashamedly testify that this concise Siddur contains the best "potty prayer" I've ever prayed giving this overlooked prayer better meaning for me than in other translations.
The arrangement of prayers has a smooth transition as one travels thru the various "olamot" or worlds of Jewish mysticism. But have no fear. There is nothing within this Siddur to entangle the pray-er into any mumbo jumbo of Jewish mystical language or thought. The author succinctly gives guidance (in the preface) on how to move thru this style of praying so that the prayers become "prayers of the heart" rather than words of the brain stressing over a need to learn the language of Hebrew or Jewish mysticism. To me, he has given one of the best explanations of how to easily pray in this mystical fashion that I as a novice have ever come upon.
As far as translation from Hebrew into English is concerned the author is not trying to present a word for word translation of Hebrew prayer. There is no Hebrew text in this book and this is THE reason I bought this Siddur as a gift for my partner who does not read Hebrew. But after going thru her copy, I had to order a copy for myself. It would make a great gift for a convert or a Christian. Even the author, a Rabbi, frequently uses this Siddur in his own davvenen.
In conclusion, the author is not advocating daily shortcuts in prayer but rather an engagement to pray by giving us the top choices of traditional Jewish prayers in heart felt language so that we, as the author states in his preface, may "stay in touch with G*d" and this Siddur has done just that for me.
A great introductory English version Siddur.
Who of us has hours upon hours to spend in prayer each day? This direct and heart-warming siddur encourages us in those precious moments we have to stand before The One to celebrate a our blessed opportunities in this life. The language throughout is profound in it's simple directness. Highly recommended for new and seasoned davveners familiar or curious with praying in a Jewish, Jewish-Renewal and neo-Hasidic way.