Posted by Libi Adler
Every once in a while we get books in our office that don’t fall into the usual mold.Today I was looking through our stacks and found this particular book: The Koren Sacks Siddur. It is, in fact, a prayer book. The newest version published by Koren Publishers and the Orthodox Union by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Its beautiful detailed cover design and easy to turn pages are only the tip of the iceberg with this book.
The main idea of this Siddur (prayerbook) is to bridge the gap between communities in different parts of the world. According to the introduction, the Koren Siddur is designed for those living in the Diaspora and living in Israel. It has the feel of an Israeli Siddur but with the explanation and translation for the outsider. The beauty of the distinguished font, and the way the text is laid out really makes the reader think about what they are saying, and not pray out of pure habit, thereby glorifying the words and highlighting their importance.
We have all been to other communities with different customs and songs and been confused as to what was being said and what would be coming up next. This Siddur makes a conscious effort to assist Jews from the Diaspora visiting the Holy Land. There are indications throughout of changes made to prayer in Israeli synagogues and a comprehensive “Halakhic Guide for the Visitor to Israel.”
Something that stood out to me in looking through this Siddur was the fact that the Hebrew text is on the left-hand side and the English on the right. To me, it seemed to make perfect sense. Who hasn’t read any book and found that one side of the book was harder to read than the other. Seeing as how this prayerbook was meant to be read in Israel, it only makes sense that the Hebrew would always be on the side that was easiest to access. The publishers acknowledge this change from the norm of bilingual Siddurs: “This arrangement preserves the distinctive “fanning out” effect of the Koren text and the beauty of the Koren layout.” It seems to me that this is a helpful change to the standard prayerbooks used up until now.
Sacks adds a Guide to the Jewish Year, Psalms list for Special Occasions, and Daily Prayer laws to help the reader out with any questions they may have. All around, this seems like a good Siddur to invest in and use on a daily basis.