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Why We Pray What We Pray: The Remarkable History of Jewish Prayer Hardcover – November 1, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


''There is hardly a Jew who does not at some time in his life hold a Jewish prayer book, a siddur, in his hands…. [It] is the Jewish religious text in widest circulation, surpassing even the Hebrew Bible.'' My revered father-in-law, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, z''l, wrote these words in 1980 in the preface to his book, ''To Pray as a Jew.'' Yet few people understand the beauty behind the words and their meaning, and fewer still know the rich history of each prayer. In his book, Rabbi Freundel has provided an authoritative, detailed and descriptive history for some of the most important and majestic prayers contained in the Jewish prayer book. The book is a must-read for everyone who wishes to understand both the content and history of the prayers they recite. ''Why We Pray What We Pray'' belongs in every Jewish home and library! --Harry Peters, an attorney practicing law in New York City, is the chairperson of the Adult Education Committee for the Young Israel of Hillcrest in Queens, NY

Barry Freundel's studies of the Jewish liturgy are quite unique: they are a guide to understanding and to practice. A scholar and a rabbi, he has an uncommon talent for combining textual and historical erudition with an immense sensitivity to the experience of prayer. He deploys his immense learning with great skill, and again and again casts new light upon some of Judaism's most familiar words. Above all, this book is animated by a profound and admirable commitment to the thoughtfulness of religious faith. If you have ever wondered what iyun tefilah is, it is this. --Leon Wieseltier, author of ''Kaddish''

This is a scholarly book of impressive depth and originality that should intrigue and enlighten a large readership. Laymen (like myself) may know much of the prayer book by heart, yet have no clue to its underlying history and concepts. Rabbi Freundel turns a familiar liturgy into a palimpsest of emergent Jewish thought down the generations. --Herman Wouk, author of ''The Language God Talks,'' ''This Is My God,'' and ''The Caine Mutiny''

About the Author

Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel is the rabbi of Congregation Kesher Israel in Washington, DC. He is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and an associate professor of religion at Towson University. He serves as the vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America and as chair of its Geirus Policies and Standards Committee. He is the author of Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s Response to Modernity. He lives in the Washington, DC area.

Product details

  • Hardcover : 313 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9655240347
  • ISBN-13 : 978-9655240344
  • Product Dimensions : 6.6 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Publisher : Urim Publications (November 1, 2010)
  • Item Weight : 1.45 pounds
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.7 out of 5 stars 11 ratings