Shir Chadash–liturgical minutiae (13 siddurim present, Nushach Achid, the five ballpoint pen rating system and my first experience with Metsudah)

On Friday night, I was at the first meeting of Shir Chadash, a new egal minyan in Crown Heights. This post is a list of related liturgical minutiae and blog business. If you’re a regular Reform Shuckler, you may enjoy this post. If not, you may just wanna stick to the main post about Shir Chadash.

PEOPLE KNOW ME: For the second time, I was spotted not by name, but by face. A Reform rabbinical student (identify yourself in the comments, if you wish to be identified, new friend) outed himself to me as a fan of The Shuckle. So, hey there. Alex, you may have some competition for number one fan.

FIVE PENS: I’ve decided to institute a rating system for services here at The Shuckle. This is based partially on Jesse Paikin‘s suggestion to me last year that this blog is like a Zagat for minyans and shuls and partially on all that brouhaha from Yom Kippur about my use of pens to take notes during services. So, when I review a service, shul or minyan, I will now use a scale of one to five ballpoint pens to rate the service. The first meeting of Shir Chadash, by the way, got five ballpoint pens!


SIDDURIM: Yeah, you knew this was coming. In the main post, I wrote:

Siddurim present are a combination of what the leader has on hand and what a few others brought with them. I count 13 different editions of 11 different siddurim in use.

Without further ado, here’s the full list:

  • Koren; microscopic black edition (Modern Orthodox Israeli)
  • Koren Sacks; compact American edition (Modern Orthodox Heb-Eng Israeli-American w British commentary)
  • Mishkan T’filah; full-size, hardcover (new mainstream American Reform, the only fully-transliterated siddur presnt, along with the next one on this list)
  • Mishkan T’filah for Travelers (a compact edition of the previous one in this list)
  • Ha’avodah Shebalev; the compact, brown, all-Hebrew edition (Israeli Reform)
  • Hadesh Yameinu (Montreal Reconstructionist, but reads like Conservative with lots of English readings)
  • Rinat Yisrael; full-size, Ashkenazi (Orthodox, Israeli government-sponsored)
  • Sim Shalom; one copy each of the big one and the little one (American Conservative)
  • Metsudah Linear Siddur (Modern Orthodox American–see below for more on this siddur)
  • Siddur Tefilah Lechayalei Tzahal; the tiniest edition of a siddur ever (Israel army-issued Nusach Achid–see below for more on that!)
  • ArtScroll; little brown edition (semi-fascist Orthodox American)
  • ArtScroll; big black Rabbinical Council of America edition (Orthodox American, but approved by the RCA[!])
  • At least one Koren Tanach that was briefly mistaken for a siddur

NUSACH ACHID?: I learned this at Shir Chadash for the first time. Apparently, in the early days of the State of Israel (or right before, the guy who told me wasn’t sure), there was so much excitement about having Jews from all over back in the same place that some people created a new nusach–Nusach Achid. Nusach Achid–as the word achid suggests–was created a unified nusach that took from many different nuschot to create what some hoped would be a single Israel nusach. Needless to say, this didn’t catch on.

However, the army siddur I saw at Shir Chadash siddur–published recently from the looks of it–was printed in Nusach Achid. Our guess was that the army rabbinate believes it’s sometimes the easiest thing to do when you need a minyan on an army base or in the field. It’s also a great example of something that’s a compromise for so many people that no one will use it.

METSUDAH: I brought my Koren Sacks with me to use at Shir Chadash, but ended up using the Metsudah Linear for most of the service. I’ve flipped through one before, but never had the chance to use one. It’s not a particularly pretty siddur, but it’s commentary is great.

Most siddurim with commentary have one or both of two goals–they either want to make the service comprehensible to an unfamiliar or novice reader or they want to provide an exhaustive guide to the laws of prayer. Metsudah does a bit of that, but that doesn’t seem to be its aim. The aim of the commentary appeared to be to give classical sources and commentary throughout. Radak, Rambam, Rashi and all the other usual suspects made appearances.

The layout of the page and the translation, however, is clearly mean to aid novice readers. Rather than going for a graceful translation, Metsudah goes for a translation that matched the Hebrew line-for-line so that one can go back and forth between a direct translation and the Hebrew.

I may have to get one.


7 responses to “Shir Chadash–liturgical minutiae (13 siddurim present, Nushach Achid, the five ballpoint pen rating system and my first experience with Metsudah)

  1. I probably should be shtohking Jesse, not you, but I think the analogy to Zagat is totally wrong. The charm of The Shuckle is that it is the idiosyncratic opinionating of one knowledgeable opinionator, while Zagat presents the collective wisdom of hundreds, maybe thousands, of self-credentialed opinionators.

    I will also suggest another rationale besides the two you mentioned for siddurim with commentary. The publisher says Who needs another siddur? The would-be editor/commentator says, But none of the others contain my insightful observations. On that basis, especially if the publisher doesn’t already have a siddur on the backlist, he says Go for it. Keep that in mind when you’re ready with Kochav Y’chidi.

  2. Pingback: Shir Chadash–a new egal minyan in Crown Heights | Jewschool

  3. Pingback: Shir Chadash–a new egal minyan in Crown Heights | The Reform Shuckle

  4. Pingback: A review of a new minyan in Austin–and how a Christian gospel tune wound up there | The Reform Shuckle

  5. Pingback: Limmud NY Notes: The ballpoint pen saga’s poetic conclusion and some other observations from a Hadar service | The Reform Shuckle

  6. Gerry O'Scannlain

    A question: How does one pronounce “The Siddur of Shir Chadash”
    From the Jewish Prayer Book? Can you give me a phonetic spelling for a non-Jewish wedding? We want to say it correctly. Thank you so much.

    My email:

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