Siddur Or veShalom is the second volume of Siddur Masorti, a new Sefaradi siddur. Siddur Or veShalom contains the liturgy for Shabbat and Festivals and is a part of our first ever community partnership with Congregation Or veShalom in Atlanta, Georgia.
Or veShalom (OVS) is a historic community, originally established by refugees from the Ottoman Empire in 1914, and they have been the home of the breadth and depth of Sefaradi Judaism in Atlanta ever since. Having moved through a slew of siddurim without finding one that feels right, OVS feels that Siddur Masorti is an answer to the problems that they and many other modern-day Sefaradi communities are struggling with.
The volume is centred around integrity, accessibility and beauty. It celebrates traditional Sefaradi liturgy, inclusive of a diversity of Sephardi/Mizraḥi customs and filled with beautiful piyyutim (songs and poetry) and psalm texts. But accessibility is at its core, with an unprecedented full transliteration, guiding commentary, and adaptations for use by all genders. Underpinning all this is a commitment to beauty, with every page like a digital homage to the illuminated Sefaradi manuscripts of the past.
"The Siddur offers a new, fluid, and gender sensitive translation of the text, a transliteration according to Sefaradi pronunciation, and a running commentary. It seems that one could not wish for more, yet there are many more pearls of wisdom and excitement to be found by the traveler in the magical paths of this Siddur."
R' Ḥaim Ovadia (from the Haskamah)
What kind of Sefaradi is this?
Siddur Or veShalom is a pan-Sefaradi nusaḥ - meaning it is a composite of several different community’s traditions, including: Maghrebi, Témani, Iraqi, Livornese, Spanish-Portuguese, and others. Rather than represent any of them perfectly, we chose to create a fusion which allows all Sefaradim to access the text. Generally where there are communal differences, we have done our best to indicate them with colour and notes.
What do you mean by gender-neutral?
The English translation. The Hebrew text is unchanged– but as masculine Hebrew can be interpreted into English as neuter (since there is no neuter in Hebrew), we have chosen to translate it that way. Thus, in many places where the Divine is referred to in the third person, we have used the singular-they in small capitals (THEY is). Though for many this will be a jarring sight on the pages of a Siddur, we are hoping it is constructively so– as it is a reminder of the theologically orthodox position which is central to this effort: that God has no body, no sex, no gender, and is thus neither masculine nor feminine.
What is non-binary Hebrew?
As Hebrew itself does not posses a neuter form, the real challenge for those who are non-binary, genderfluid, or non-identifying is the forced choice between masculine language (for instance, Modeh Ani) and feminine (Modah Ani). Thanks to the amazing work of Lior Gross and Eyal Rivlin at the Non-Binary Hebrew Project, there is an effort to pioneer a new grammatical form to represent non-binary or neuter (Modet Ani). Although this is a considerable diversion from Hebrew grammar, we believe it is worthwhile for the few occasions in the Siddur where first-person or gender-specific language is required. We have aimed for a spirit of universal design– choosing forms which allow all people, regardless of gender, to use the same language. However, there are a few places where that is not possible and there we have utilised the forms from the NBHP.
- A write up by Masorti Judaism in the UK
- An article in the Jewish Chronicle
- Jewish News of Northern California Hanukkah Gift List
What People Are Saying
“Everything needs Divine abundance, even the Sefer Torah in the Ark. I feel that the world of Sefaradi prayer needed this moment of Divine abundance, and that the Sefer Torah in the dictum is this siddur.”
"[Siddur Masorti] is my favorite new siddur in years, a must-have for any lover of Jewish liturgy. The sturdy hardcover volume — the first ever gender-egalitarian Sephardi siddur — is visually stunning inside and out. I was slack-jawed the first time I saw it."
"Beautiful, approachable , empowering text that inspires the worshiper to pray with kavanah no matter one’s previous experience."
"First - it is a work of art - beauty is on every page, and I especially love the plates with incredible designs made from the Hebrew words. Second - the explanations are a very accessible introduction to Jewish liturgy in general - and Sephardic liturgy in particular. Third - the choices the editors have made around language, both traditional and contemporary, force one to ponder more deeply the nature of the God to whom we pray."
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