A siddur (Hebrew: סידור; plural "siddurim") is a Jewish prayer book, containing a set order of daily prayers. This article discusses how some of these prayers evolved, and how the siddur, as we know it today has developed. A separate article, Jewish services, discusses the prayers that appear in the siddur, and when they are said.

History of the siddur

The earliest parts of Jewish prayer are the "Shema Yisrael" ("Hear O Israel") (Deuteronomy 6:4 "et seq"), and the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26), which are in the Torah. A set of eighteen (currently nineteen) blessings called the "Shemoneh Esreh" or the "Amidah" (Hebrew, "standing [prayer] "), is traditionally ascribed to the Great Assembly in the time of Ezra, at the end of the Biblical period.

The name "Shemoneh Esreh", literally "eighteen", is an historical anachronism, since it now contains nineteen blessings. It was only near the end of the Second Temple period that the eighteen prayers of the weekday Amidah became standardized. Even at that time their precise wording and order was not yet fixed, and varied from locale to locale. Many modern scholars 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 Yavne, 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 in which they are still used today.

The siddur was printed by Soncino in Italy as early as 1486, though a siddur was first mass-distributed only in 1865. The siddur began appearing in the vernacular as early as 1538. The first - unauthorized - English translation, by Gamaliel ben Pedahzur (a pseudonym), appeared in London in 1738; a different translation was released in the United states in 1837. [ [ Power and Politics: Prayer books and resurrection | Jerusalem Post ] ]

Creating the siddur

Readings from the Torah (five books of Moses) and the Nevi'im ("Prophets") form part of the prayer services. To this framework various Jewish sages added, 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 among, amongst others, the Sephardic (including Spanish and Portuguese), Chasidic, Ashkenazic (German-Polish), Bené Roma or Italiani, and Romaniote (Greek, once extending to Turkey and perhaps the southern Italian peninsula) liturgies: see further discussion in the articles on "Nusach" and "Minhag".

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 Yom Kippur; Eleazer 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 (Jewish 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. Sometimes the term "mahzor" is also used for the prayer books for the three pilgrim festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Popular siddurim

Below are listed many popular siddurim used by religious Jews.

Ashkenazi Orthodox

*"Siddur Ha-Shalem" (a.k.a. the "Birnbaum Siddur") Ed. Philip Birnbaum. The Hebrew Publishing Company. ISBN 0-88482-054-8 (Hebrew-English)
*"The Metsudah Siddur: A New Linear Prayer Book" Ziontalis. (Hebrew-English)
*"The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the British Commonwealth", translation by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks (the new version of "Singer's Prayer Book") (Hebrew-English)
*"The Artscroll Siddur", Mesorah Publications (In a number of versions including an interlinear translation and fairly popular today.) (Hebrew, Hebrew-English, Hebrew-Russian, Hebrew-Spanish, Hebrew-French)
*"Siddur Rinat Yisrael", "Hotsa'at Moreshet", Bnei Brak, Israel. (In a number of versions, popular in Israel.) (Hebrew)
*"Siddur Siach Yitzchak" (Hebrew)
*"Siddur Tefilas Kol Peh" (Hebrew)
*"Siddur Tefilas Sh'ai", Feldheim Publishers : Israel/NewYork (Hebrew)
*"Siddur HaGra"
*"Siddur Aliyos Eliyahu" (Popular among followers of the Gra who live in Israel and Abroad) (Hebrew)
*"Siddur Kol Bo" (Hebrew)


panish and Portuguese Jews

"(Characterised by relative absence of Kabbalistic elements:)"

*"Book of Prayer: According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews" David de Sola Pool, New York: Union of Sephardic Congregations, 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.

Greek, Turkish and Balkan Sephardim

"(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)"
*"Siddur Zehut Yosef" (Daily and Shabbat) According to the Rhodes and Turkish Traditions, Hazzan Isaac Azose, Seattle, WA: Sephardic Traditions Foundation, 2002

North African Jews

"(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)"
*"Siddur Od Abinu ִHai" ed. Levi Nahum: Jerusalem (Hebrew only, Livorno text, Libyan tradition)
*"Mahzor Od Abinu ִHai" ed. Levi Nahum (5 vols.): Jerusalem (Hebrew only, Livorno text, Libyan tradition)
*"Siddur Vezaraִh Hashemesh", ed. Messas: Jerusalem (Hebrew only, Meknes tradition)
*"Siddur Ish Matzliaִh", ed. Mazuz, Machon ha-Rav Matzliah: B'nei Brak (Hebrew only, Djerba tradition)
*"Siddur Farִhi" (Hebrew with Arabic translation, Egypt)
*"Siddur Tefilat ha-Hodesh", ed. David Levi, Erez : Jerusalem (Hebrew only, Livorno text, Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian traditions) []
*"Siddur Patah Eliyahou", ed. Joseph Charbit, Colbo: Paris (Hebrew and French, Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian traditions) []
*"Mahzor Zechor le-Avraham", Yarid ha-Sefarim : Jerusalem (Based on the original "Zechor le-Abraham": Livorno 1926, Hebrew only, Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian traditions, days of awe only)

Middle Eastern Sephardim and Mizrachim

"(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)"


*"The Aram Soba Siddur: According to the Sephardic Custom of Aleppo Syria" Rabbi Moshe Antebi, Jerusalem: Aram Soba Foundation, 1993
*"Siddur Abodat Haleb / Prayers from the Heart" Rabbi Moshe Antebi, Lakewood, NJ: Israel Book Shop, 2002
*"Kol Yaacob": Sephardic Heritage Foundation, New York, 1990.
*"Bet Yosef ve-Ohel Abraham": Jerusalem, Manִsur (Hebrew only, based on Baghdadi text)
*"Orִhot ִHayim", ed. Yedid: Jerusalem 1995 (Hebrew only)
*"Siddur Kol Mordechai", ed. Faham bros: Jerusalem 1984 (minhah and arbit only)
*"Abir Yaakob", ed. Haber: Sephardic Press (Hebrew and English, Shabbat only)
*"Orot Sephardic Siddur", Eliezer Toledano: Lakewood, NJ, Orot Inc. (Hebrew and English: Baghdadi text, Syrian variants shown in square brackets)
*"Maִhzor Shelom Yerushalayim", ed. Albeg: New York, Sephardic Heritage Foundation 1982

Israeli, following Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

*"Ohr V’Derech Sephardic Siddur"
*"Siddur Yeִhavveh Daat"
*"Siddur Avodat Ha-shem"
*"Siddur ִHazon Ovadia"

Edot Hamizrach (Iraqi)

*"Tefillat Yesharim": Jerusalem, Manִsur (Hebrew only)
*"Siddur Od Yosef ִHai"
*"Kol Eliyahu", ed. Mordechai Eliyahu

Yemenite Jews (Teimanim)


*"Siddur Tiklal: Tzalach Yihiyeh Ben Yehuda, 1800
*"Siddur Tiklal: Torath Avoth []
*"Siddur Siahh Yerushalayim: Rabbi Yosef Gafahh/Kapach []
*"Tiklal Ha-Mefoar (MAHARITS) Nusahh Baladi, Meyusad Al Pi Ha-Tiklal Im Etz Hayim Ha-Shalem Arukh Ke-Minhag Yahaduth Teiman: Bene Berak : Or Neriyah ben Mosheh Ozeri, [2001 or 2002] []


*"Siddur Tefilat HaChodesh - Beit Yaakov, Nusahh Sepharadim, Teiman, and the Edoth Mizrakh
*"Siddur Kavanot HaRashash: By: Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, Publisher: Yeshivat HaChaim Ve'Hashalom


"Chabad, while ethnically Ashkenazic, are Hasidic Jews. Their "nusach" (liturgical tradition) is called Nusach Ari. While previous Siddurim had been arranged by disciples of the famous kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria of Safed, the Chabad siddur was altered for general use, correcting textual errors, by the Alter Rebbe, Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Chabad Rebbe, called "Siddur Torah Or". He later made a new edition without the "Kavanot" (meditations) that made "Nusach HaAri" so mystical which accounted for 70% of the Siddur, called "Siddur Tehillat HaShem". A few other derived Siddurim, known as "Nusach Sefard", have been made by Chassidim outside of Chabad.

*"Siddur Torah Or"
*"Siddur Tehillat HaShem"
*"Siddur Tefilot Mikol Hashanah"

All are currently published by Kehot Publication Society.

Conservative Judaism

*"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.
*"Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays" Ed. Avram Israel Reisner, 2003, 576 pages. RA and USCJ.
*"Siddur Va'ani Tefilati" Ed. by Simchah Roth, 1998, 744 pages. Israeli Masorti Movement and Rabbinical Assembly of Israel. Hebrew.

Progressive and Reform Judaism

*"Ha-Avodah Shebalev", The prayer book of The Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Ed. The Council of Israel Progressive Rabbis (MARAM), 1982
*"The Companion to Ha-Avodah Shebalev" published by Congregation Har-El Jerusalem in 1992 to help English-speaking immigrants and visitors; Hebrew pages from the original "Ha-Avodah Shebalev", English translations from "Gates of Prayer: The New Union Prayer Book" with additional translations by Adina Ben-Chorin.
*"Forms of Prayer for Jewish Worship" Ed. Assembly of Rabbis of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, 1977, RSGB.
The Movement for Reform Judaism (formerly RSGB) in 1993 started work on creating a new siddur for the Reform Movement in the UK. Their progress can be tracked via the official " [ Reform Siddur project website] " as well as the " [ Reform Movement's main site] ".
*"Siddur Lev Chadash", Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues, UK, 1995.All of the following published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis:
*"Olat Tamid: Book of Prayers for Jewish Congregations"
*"The Union Prayerbook"
*"Gates of Prayer: The New Union Prayer Book"
*"Gates of Repentance: The New Union Prayer Book"
*"Mishkan T'filah" [Tabernacle of Prayer] ": A Reform Siddur"

Reconstructionist Judaism

*"Hadesh Yameinu (Renew our days): a book of Jewish prayer and meditation", edited and translated by Rabbi Ronald Aigen. Montreal (Cong. Dorshei Emet), 1996.
*Kol Haneshamah Prayerbook series, ed. David Teutsch:
**"Shabbat Vehagim: The Sabbath and Festivals", Reconstructionist Press; 3rd edition (August 1, 1998)
**"Limot Hol: Daily Prayer Book", Reconstructionist Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 1998)
**"Kol Haneshamah: Prayers for a House of Mourning", Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (October 10, 2001)
**"Kol Haneshamah: Mahzor Leyamim Nora'Im", Fordham University Press; Bilingual edition (May 1, 2000)

ee also

*Jewish services
*List of Jewish prayers and blessings
*Amram Gaon
*Eleazar Kalir
*Siddur of Saadia Gaon
*Torah databases (for electronic Hebrew texts of the siddur with vowels)
*Sephardic Judaism


*"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. An Orthodox prayerbook widely used in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.
* in Hebrew Wikibooks
*Amidah, entry in the Encyclopedia Judaica, Keter Publishing

External links

; Hebrew texts:
* Complete Siddur texts in Sephard, Ashkenaz, and Edot HaMizrach versions (Hebrew Website)" [] "
* Complete Hebrew texts in all versions setup for daily prayer. (English Website) " [] "
* The complete Ashkenazi Siddur online (JPEG format) " [] "
* Text of the Kabbalat Shabbat Service in pdf and doc format on " [ Ariel Benjamin's siddur website] "

; Sites from which one may purchase Siddurim:
* " [ Orvishua] "
* " [ Nehora] "
* " [ Torath Moshe's Teman Books] "
* " [ ArtScroll] "
* " [ Kehot Publication Society] "

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