Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Picture of Prayer - Worth a Thousand Words

There is a wonderful new sidur out called Nehalel, published Nevarech and Urim Publishers, devised by Michael Haruni.  Many readers have probably used the Nevarech bentcher, which I think was really a groundbreaking change to the conceptualized forms of bentching. This new sidur brings that approach to Shabbat davening.

The introduction by Zvi Grumet is an outstanding essay on the conceptual journey of Jewish prayer and desire for visual images.  Grumet dubs this siddur a "visual midrash on the liturgy" to provide a "new avenue for helping us access our inner selves".  While I don't imagine using this siddur every week, it is a great trigger for teachers and parents on how to use the liturgy for everyday prayers and increase kavannah.

The siddur is a perhaps the most under appreciated books on the Jewish bookshelf and I believe Michael Haruni's siddur is a bold step to refresh our relationship to the text inside.  His "cautionary" introduction addressing his motivation for creating this siddur offering educators a fascinating and honest confrontation with the limits of photographs and images to conceptualize prayer.  It is a must read and a great springboard for students to begin to see their own prayer as less fixed and rote.

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