The fact that we are now seeing an increasing number of new faces at our services is cause for celebration. Among them are several children and others who have little previous acquaintance with Judaism. To those of us who are steeped in the world of the synagogue our services, liturgy and traditions are deeply familiar and treasured. It is easy to forget that for those from different backgrounds the first impression of a formal synagogue service may well be bafflement and unease. We have therefore been exploring ways of increasing the appeal of services at Chatham so that all our members are able to feel some attachment to what we do.
One such initiative is our transliterated siddur. Running consecutively from the first to the last word of the service (but with nothing extraneous to the service in it) it makes the task of following very much easier for those whose reading of Hebrew script is not fluent.
We have taken care to produce an accurate, clear and consistent text (qualities not always to be found in some of the versions available on the internet). The style of the transliteration is intended to emphasise the structure of the Hebrew words, because one of our aims is to help users to develop a sensitivity to the language. At the same time the text includes basic instructions designed to guide the reader through the customs and traditions associated with worship, so that much of the unfamiliarity of traditional Jewish prayer can be overcome from the outset.
In due course the transliteration will be interleaved with an English translation, which is likely to include commentary and illustration designed to enrich the user’s encounter with the liturgy. At present, it is meant for use in conjunction with the Singer siddur, and the page numbering is that of the relatively recent edition of Singer which is found in most traditional shuls.
We are happy to make this developing resource available to others who would like to use it for the purposes of prayer and education. If you would like to receive the transliteration in its present form or to be notified when the project is complete, please use our Contact Form and choosing the drop down option “Other”. A sample of the present text is available to download by clicking on the link (on the prayer book) opposite.