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April 07, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-04-07

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PURELY COMMENTARY

Siddur

Jewish Sacredness Steeped in Learning

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

p

erhaps with the exception
only of the Scriptures, the
Siddur, the prayer book of the
Jewish people, is the most widely used
and never interrupted textbook.
Jews who daven, who pray, not only
utilize it for the sacredness of prayer.
They also keep learning from it.
It is, indeed a sacred textbook and
assumes the most important
significance for all who wish to keep ac-
quiring knowledge about traditions,
commitments, historical experiences
and the sanctity of home as well as
synagogue.
Here is one volume on the subject
that retains complete significance on
the topic of davening, praying. It is the
inspirational Service of the Heart — A
Guide to the Jewish Prayer Book by
Evelyn Garfiel.
First published in 1958, it has just
been reissued by Jason Aronson
Publishers. That's the additional sur-
prise of it — that there was such a lapse
for its published continuity. It was a
great contribution to Jewish literature
as well as to an appreciation of sanctity
from the very beginning. It became in-
valuable and now again treasured as a
definitive work that should be utilized
by everyone who davens devotedly.
Evelyn Garfiel, who taught at
several universities and was on the
teaching staff of the Women's Institute
of the Jewish Theological Seminary of
America, was married to the renowned
scholar Max Kadushin. She died in
1987 at the age of 87.

Dr. Garfiel provided a very impor-
tant definition of the Siddur in her most
definitive work. She also traced the
history of the Siddur in the truly great
legacy she left for the generations.
In defining the great values and the
noteworthy significance of the Siddur,
she provided this inspirational
knowledge for the prayerful and those
researching for historical knowledge.

Unfortunately, many of the
Jewish classics have become
just so many impressive tomes
on a library shelf. The prayer
book is almost the only one
among the great source books of
the Jewish religion that still re-
mains functional. For as solid
Jewish learning becomes rarer,
and as personal piety comes to
seem more and more an oddity,
as even basic home observances
of the religious tradition dwin-
dle away, the synagogue service
becomes increasingly the only
mode of religious experience
for many Jews. And in the
synagogue it is the prayer book,
however modified or abridged,
which every Jew actually holds
in his hand, perhaps reads or
hears recited.
This prayer book, the siddur,
is the one ancient text still in
common use by Jews all over
the world. The Hebrew name for
the prayer book, siddur, means
literally "order" or "arrange-
ment." It is, in fact, an abbrevia-
tion for the full phrase, Seder
Tefillot, order of prayers.
No matter how far from

home a Jew may wander, no
matter how strange to him the
language and the customs of the
people among whom he finds
himself, he need only enter a
synagogue and open the
Hebrew prayer book he finds
there to feel himself in familiar
surroundings, perfectly able to
share and communicate his ex-
perience with brother Jews.

Prayers acquire deeper understan-
ding than mere reciting. The function
of the Siddur attains deepest inspria-

This scholarly work
provides a history of the
prayer book and the
historic data is a growing
enrichment for the
community and the
individual worshipper.

tion in the explanatory text by Evelyn
Garfiel. This scholarly work provides a
history of the prayer book and the
historic data is a growing enrichment
for the community and the individual
worshipper.
The historic data is a fascinating
record. The author of this most valuable
volume provides us with this history:

It is reasonably certain that
by the early days of the Second
Temple, about 400 B.C.E., some
form of group prayer service ex-
isted among the Jews. That ser-
vice included recitation of

Psalms, the Shema, possibly
some other prayers, and
readings from the Torah. At the
Temple in Jerusalem during this
same period, almost the same
prayers — without the readings
from the Torah — were recited
daily in addition to the sacrifice
service.
The prayer service grew in
importance during the next two
or three hundred years until it
became, in addition to the Tem-
ple service, an established mode
of worship — the synagogue. Its
prayers increased in number;
two benedictions were added
before the Shema and one after
it. The benedictions of the
Shemoneth Esray (the "Eigh-
teen Benedictions") were com-
posed by various rabbis, pro-
bably in large part during these
years, and they became an
essential element of every
service.
For some mysterious reason,
not much is actually known
about the religious development
or, for that matter, about any of
the events of this period in
Jewish history. But it must have
been a time of active spiritual
ferment, for the rabbinic tradi-
tion and its literature, including
a large part of the prayers, were
in process of creation during
those "silent centuries!' By the
generation after the destruction
of the Temple in 70 C.E., the
synagogue service was fairly

Continued on Page 38

The Evidence Of Children In The Ifurban'

R

ecords of the 20th Century
hurban, the Holocaust, vol-
uminously unprecedented, fill
the libraries and archives of the world
with endless outcries putting to shame
the perpertrators of the most inhuman
acts in mankind's history. They are the
records of the Holocaust years and the
crimes that stemmed from a nation that
had been among the world's most civiliz-
ed powers. Survivors of that immense
pogrom are men and women who suf-
fered unforgettable tortures. There were
the very young who have lived to see the

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
(US PS 275-520) is published every
Friday with additional supplements the
fourth week of March, the fourth week
of August and the second week of
November at 20300 Civic Center Drive,
Southfield, Michigan.

Second class postage paid at
Southfield, Michigan and additional
mailing offices.

Postmaster: Send changes to:
DETROIT JEWISH NEWS, 20300 Civic
Center Drive, Suite 240, Southfield,
Michigan 48076

$26 per year
$33 per year out of state
60' single copy

Vol. XCV No. 6

2

FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 1989

April 7, 1989

end of the Nazi terror and to relate their impressions made upon children and re-
memories for the historians of the world tained in adulthood, make Too Young to
to assure the perpetuating of the Remember (WSU Press) a volume of
condemnations.
great importance in the Holocaust
Were the children too young to have library. The author, Julie Heifetz, is
a share in damning the Nazi brutalities? writer-in-residence in the Center for
The number of victims who were mere Holocaust Studies in St. Louis, Mo. She
infants reached more than a milion ac- has a record of many years' devotion in
counted for in the tragic recordings. the assembling of Holocaust data.
Some survived. Do they retain memories
Additionally, the foreward to the
engraved upon their minds from their book adds immensely to the importance
earliest ages?
of the psychological and historical em-
The horrors that were engraved phasis given to this volume. It was
upon many minds caused a measure of authored by Alice L. Eckardt, who, with
silence. Many had sleepless nights fill- her husband, Prof. A. Roy Eckardt, has
ed with distress resulting from recurring made the Christian interest in exposing
reminders of what had occurred. Some the German crimes a deep human
even refused to talk about the numerals commitment.
engraved upon their arms when they
The Eckardts have rendered many
were counted for the gas chambers.
Some hesitated to discuss their services in retaining the Holocaust
miseries with family and friends. It was memories, in their condemnations of the
inhumanities. They are especially effec-
a price for terror.
There are the continuing outcries re- tive in their jointly-written Long Night's
jecting silence. "Never forget" is a Journey Into Day, which has just been
reminding motto for prevention of reissued in a revised edition by WSU
Press. Christological in its main essence,
repeated genocides.
Now a volume of great significance as "retrospective on the Holocaust," it is
contains the voices of the children who a powerful denunication of anti-Jewish
remember, who will not forget, who add cruelties. Its emphasis on justice is a
to the inhumanities of a terrifying message on behalf of the civilized in
mankind. There is one special
record.
The revelations, the deeply moving declarative ideal which is thus defined

by the Eckardts Long Night's Journey

Into Day.
Inexorably, human memory
fades, as does human resolve.
This will be true of the
Holocaust, as of earlier afflic-
tions of the people of God. For
this reason above all others it is
imperative that Christian con-
gregations incorporate the
memory of the Shoah into their
liturgies and calendars.
Only in this way will the past
live meaningfully in the present.
Only in this way will this rupture
in history, this cataclysm that
must shatter all equanimity and
shallow optimism, become part
of the common store of memory
of the two peoples and a
perpetual challenge to work
against any repetition. Only in
this way can we hope to built up
a deposit of moral reserve on
which we may draw when other
ideologies attempt to subvert the
proclaimed ethics of our com-
munities or when dangers tempt
us to abandon our morality.
We can only trust that our
remembrances and intentions

Continued on Page 38

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