From Academic Kids

The siddur is the prayerbook used by Jews the world over, containing a set order of daily prayers. There is a separate entry on the prayers that appear in the siddur, and when they are said. This entry discusses how some of these prayers evolved, and how the siddur as we know it today has developed.


History of the siddur

The earliest parts of Jewish prayer are the "Shema Yisrael" (Hear O Israel) (Deuteronomy 6:4 et seq) and the set of 19 blessings called the Shemoneh Esreh or the Amidah (Hebrew, "Standing Prayer".)

The name Shemoneh Esreh, literally "eighteen," is a historical anachronism, since it now contains nineteen blessings. It was only near the end of the Second Temple period that the 18 prayers of the weekday Amidah became standardized. Even at this time their precise wording and order was not yet fixed, and varied from locale to locale. Many scholars now believe that parts of the Amidah came from the Hebrew apocryphal work Ben Sira.

According to the Talmud, soon after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem a formal version of the Amidah was adopted at a rabbinical council in Jabneh, under the leadership of Rabban Gamaliel II and his colleagues. However, the precise wording was still left open. The order, general ideas, opening and closing lines were fixed. Most of the wording was left to the individual reader. It was not until several centuries later that the prayers began to be formally fixed. By the middle-ages the texts of the prayers were nearly fixed, and in the form that they are still used today.

A separate article on the Amidah exists.

Creating the siddur

Readings from the Torah (five books of Moses) and the Prophets form part of the prayer services. To this framework were fitted, from time to time, various prayers, and, for festivals especially, numerous hymns.

The earliest existing codification of the prayerbook was drawn up by Rav Amram Gaon of Sura, Babylon, about 850 CE. Half a century later Rav Saadia Gaon, also of Sura, composed a siddur, in which the rubrical matter is in Arabic. These were the basis of Simcha ben Samuel's "Machzor Vitry" (11th century France), which was based on the ideas of his teacher, Rashi. From this point forward all Jewish prayerbooks had the same basic order and contents.

Different Jewish rites

There are differences between, amongst others, the Sephardic (Spanish and Portuguese), Ashkenazic (German-Polish), Italki (Central and South Italian) and Romaniote (Greek) liturgies. The Mahzor of each rite is distinguished by hymns (piyyutim) composed by authors (payyetanim) of the district. The most important writers are Yoseh ben Yoseh, probably in the 6th century, chiefly known for his compositions for the day of Atonement, Elazar Qalir, the founder of the payyetanic style, perhaps in the 7th century, Saadia Gaon, and the Spanish school consisting of Joseph ibn Abitur (died in 970), ibn Gabirol, Isaac Gayyath, Moses ibn Ezra, Abraham ibn Ezra and Judah ha-Levi, Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides), and Isaac Luria.

Complete versus weekday siddurim

Some siddurim have only prayers for weekdays; others have prayers for weekdays and Shabbat (the Sabbath). Many have prayers for weekdays, Shabbat, and the three Biblical festivals, Sukkot (the feast of Tabernacles), Shavuot (the feast of weeks) and Pesach (Passover). The latter are referred to as a Siddur Shalem (complete siddur).

Variations and additions on holidays

There are many additional liturgical variations and additions to the siddur for the Yamim Noraim (The Days of Awe; High Holy Days, i.e. Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur). As such, a special siddur has developed for just this period, known as a mahzor (also machzor). The mahzor contains not only the basic liturgy, but also many piyutim, Hebrew liturgical poems.

Popular siddurim

Below are listed many popular siddurim used by religious Jews.

Ashkenazi Orthodox

  • "Siddur Ha-Shalem" ("aka the Birnbaum Siddur") Ed. Philip Birnbaum. The Hebrew Publishing Company. ISBN 0884820548
  • "The Metsudah Siddur: A New Linear Prayer Book" Ziontalis.
  • "The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the British Commonwealth", translation by Rabbi Eli Cashdan (the new version of the "Singer's Prayer Book")
  • "The Artscroll Siddur" Mesorah Publications ( (In a number of versions and, by far, the most popular today.)


  • Orot Sephardic Siddur Weekday: Kol Sasson, Shabbat: Kol Yehuda, Rabbi Eliezer Toledano, Orot Inc.
  • The Aram Soba Siddur: According to the Sephardic Custom of Aleppo Syria Rabbi Moshe Antebi, Jerusalem: Aram Soba Foundation, 1993
  • Book of Prayer: According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews New York: Union of Sephardic Congregations David de Sola Pool, 1979
  • Book of prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation, London. Volume One: Daily and occasional prayers. Oxford (Oxford Univ. Press, Vivian Ridler), 5725 - 1965.


The Chabad, while ethnically ashkenazic, are chassidic Jews. Their nusach is called HaAri. While previous Nusach HaAri Siddurim had been arranged by the famous kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed, the Chabad siddur was altered for general use, correcting textual errors and without the Kavanot (meditations) that made Nusach HaAri so mystical, by the Alter Rebbe, Shneur Zalman of Liadi,the first Chabad Rebbe.


  • "Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book" edited by Morris Silverman with Robert Gordis, 1946. USCJ and RA
  • "Weekday Prayer Book" Edited by Morris Silverman, 1956. USCJ
  • "Weekday Prayer Book" Ed. Gershon Hadas with Jules Harlow, 1961, RA.
  • "Siddur Sim Shalom" Ed. Jules Harlow. 1985, 980 pages, RA and USCJ.
  • "Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals" Ed. Lawrence Cahan, 1998, 816 pages. RA and USCJ. This is a new edition of Sim Shalom just for Shabbat and Festivals (no weekday services).
  • "Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays" Ed. Avram Israel Reisner, 2003, 576 pages. RA and USCJ.


All Published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (

  • Olat Tamid: Book of Prayers for Jewish Congregations, 1856
  • The Union Prayerbook, 1895
  • Gates of Prayer: The New Union Prayer Book, 1975
  • Gates of Repentance: The New Union Prayer Book, 1975
  • Mishkan Tefilah (Tabarnacle of Prayer), 2005


  • Ḥadesh Yameinu (Renew our days): a book of Jewish prayer and meditation, edited and translated by Rabbi Ronald Aigen. Montreal (Cong. Dorshei Emet), 1996.

See also


  • Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History, Ismar Elbogen, Jewish Publication Society, 1993. This is the most thorough academic study of the Jewish liturgy ever written. Originally published in German in 1913, and updated in a number of Hebrew editions, the latest edition has been translated into English by Raymond P. Scheindlin. This work covers the entire range of Jewish liturgical development, beginning with the early cornerstones of the siddur; through the evolution of the medieval piyyut tradition; to modern prayerbook reform in Germany and the United States.
  • Joseph Heinemann "Prayer in the Talmud", Gruyter, NY, 1977
  • Kavvana: Directing the Heart in Jewish Prayer, Seth Kadish, Jason Aronson Inc. 1997.
  • The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer Macy Nulman, Jason Aronson Inc.,1993. Provides in one volume information on every prayer recited in the Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. Arranged alphabetically by prayer, this book includes information on the prayers, their composers and development, the laws and customs surrounding them, and their place in the service.
  • Jakob J. Petuchowski "Contributions to the Scientific Study of Jewish Liturgy" Ktav, NY, 1970
  • The Artscroll Siddur, Ed. Nosson Scherman, Mesorah Publications. A popular Orthodox prayerbook with running commentary. The amount of commentary varies by version.
  • The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the British Commonwealth, translation by Rabbi Eli Cashdan. A Orthodox prayerbook widely used in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.
  • Siddur HaEsh (of Fire) (סידור_האש) in Hebrew Wikibooks

External link

  • Siddur ( on Judaica Guidede:Siddur

he:סידור no:Siddur nn:Siddr


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