Our Stories

Introducing the New JPDS-NC Siddur: Siddur Am Echad

December 1, 2016 by Naomi Reem (Faculty and Staff) Sharon Freundel (Community)

We are delighted to introduce the fourth edition of the JPDS-NC siddur (prayerbook). Nine years ago, we embarked on our quest for a multi-denominational, kid-friendly siddur. Unable to find such a thing, we created our own and have been successfully using it for the past six years. With this newest edition, we have renamed it Siddur Am Echad, literally, “the siddur of one people,” or alternatively and more in line with our vision, “the siddur of a unified people.”

Jews of all stripes can learn together. We share the texts of the Torah and the Talmud, as well as later Jewish writings. Jewish study is set up precisely for back and forth debate and discussion.

Sometimes, praying together can be more difficult. The physical structure of the synagogue, the variants in the liturgy, and the different versions of the siddur often create situations that prevent us from being fully comfortable in a synagogue unlike our own. One of the objectives of this siddur is to provide the students with a communal praying experience in which every student feels comfortable, “at home” if you will, and learns to navigate not only his or her own liturgy, but also that of the other denominations while gaining an understanding of the philosophies behind the divergent approaches.

As with everything in Jewish education, this siddur has evolved over the course of its iterations. It is now full color and includes commentaries and pictures by our students in addition to classic commentaries and thoughts from our faculty members. We have reformatted the text for easier reading and comprehension and have added a number of sections, including weekday ma’ariv (the evening service) and Kabbalat Shabbat (the Friday evening service).

We have retained our diverse approach to various tefilot (prayers), such as the Amidah (the Standing Prayer) and Birkot HaSchachar (the Morning Blessings), and have attempted to create as inclusive a liturgical document as possible.

As we open our Middle School, we will additionally create a Middle School Siddur, containing more prayers and commentary, and formatted more appropriately for an older child.

For now, we hope that this new siddur will inspire our children to pray, to explore the meaning of prayer in general, and to discover the richness of the specific prayers that they encounter.

We are so grateful that Shifra Chelst, who is the driving force behind this siddur, is a member of our team and we all appreciate the countless hours that went into the creation of this remarkable holy book.

We invite you to view our Facebook photo album of the students enjoying their new siddurim.