In breaking news from the “lets create a siddur” world, there are two new siddurim that I’ve learned of that are entering the fold. Naturally, I’m intrigued. Let’s take a quick look at them!
1. Kehilat Sha’ar Zahav, a synagogue in San Francisco for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual Jews,” is releasing a siddur to address the unique needs of their community. Cool! I’m a fan of personalized prayer, especially when it unites a community. Full disclousure: I have not seen the siddur; however being somewhat enamoured with liturgy and understanding its makeup, I think it’s fair to talk about what I’ve learned so far. Let’s dive right in! Problem: the siddur includes (among other things which I have not yet learned of) blessings to recite upon getting a sex change, and after having random anonymous gay sex. Okay.
Setting aside my own thoughts on sex changes and random, anonymous sex (gay, or otherwise), this seems to be just a little bit contradictory doesn’t it? How does one reconcile a blessing for a sex change with a blessing extoling God for creating one in the image of God? And random sex? I’m just not going to touch that one. Seems to be pretty un-Jewish to me. The siddur also reportedly has added Jacob’s concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah, to the Avot v’Imahot. Not knowing anything about the theological reasonings for this one, I will wait to comment until I learn more.
2. “It’s a functional prayerbook and graphic novel, rolled into one!” Who could ask for more? Rabbi Benjamin Sharff has released the Comic Book Siddur – a children’s siddur in which “a minyan of muscular super heroes… fight their way to the bima to do an aliya.” My intitial reaction to this was that this is a great way to get kids interested in the siddur. And I stil think that. While a siddur and a comic book might seem to be a little diametrically opposed, ultimately, on paper, a siddur is just a book with words. If the book gets people interested in the words, then fantastic!
My only issue with this project: As I clicked through the website, I did notice that it claims to include “all of the prayers for a complete Saturday Morning Shabbat Service.” Okay. Let’s break this one down. “All” + “the prayers” + “complete” = just a little bit of confusion. It’s pretty clear that this siddur is modelled on the structure of the CCAR’s Gates of Prayer, yet it’s not identified as a Reform siddur. So are all of the prayers inclouded for a complete Shabbat service? For a Reform serice… sure! For somebody else’s service… maybe! Careful with the marketing terminology, rabbis!
Creating new siddurim is a risky business. It represents a statement of paramount theological and philosophical importance. And it’s printed on paper and bound in a book, no less! I’m looking forward to getting copies of these new siddurim, and will certainly have more to comment on when I get them.