I remember my teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel years ago quoting the adage that “when nearly all Jews prayed, one siddur was enough for all of them. Today, when few Jews pray, we began to produce multiple prayerbooks.” The implication was that the problem of Jewish worship lay in the hearts of the worshippers, not in the shortcomings of the liturgy. If Jews would open themselves to the wonder of coming into God’s presence, the words that moved and inspired their grandparents would move and inspire them as well.
For years, I believed that critique. My own efforts as a congregational rabbi went in the direction not of explaining the prayers but of explaining the phenomenon of praying. What prayer could mean was not the same as what the words of a given prayer meant. Kol Nidre and the Mourners’ Kaddish are the two prayers with the greatest power to reach Jewish worshippers, but their impact is at best tangentially related to the meaning of their words.
And for years, I would examine the new editions of siddurim and mahzorim that emerged from one publishing house or another, with the same sense that, no matter how well they were done, they were answering the wrong question. The best translation would not cure the conviction of the average Jew that praying was a waste of time.
It was with that expectation of “just another rewrite” in mind that I opened Joseph Rosenstein’s Siddur Eit Ratzon. It took only a few pages to persuade me that I was wrong. It was an eye-opening, heart-opening exercise. Rosenstein, who is a professor of mathematics and not a rabbi, has succeeded in prying open the familiar prayers of the daily and Shabbat service and exposing the kernel of relevance at its core.
Suddenly the text is transformed from “this is what you’re supposed to recite to be a good Jew” to “this is something I need to think about but haven’t done so until now” or “this is something my soul wanted to say but couldn’t find the words for.”
Thus, for example, in the birkhot ha-shachar, zokef k’fufim is translated as “You straighten the bent, removing whatever pushes us down.” Roka ha-aretz al hamayim is taken to mean “You have made the world a secure place, where Nature is governed by law,” and she-asah li kol tzorkhi means “You provide me with skills enabling me to meet all my needs.”
In Rosenstein’s rendition, the opening lines of the Kedushah would have us saying “We exalt and sanctify Your Name, imagining that we are using the secret language of the fiery angels in Isaiah’s vision.” And l’dor vador nagid godlekha is translated “May we transmit the message of Your greatness from one generation to another.” The reference to tzitzit after the Sh’ma is translated “Tell them: these tzitzit are for you. Look at them regularly so that each time you see them, you will remember all of God’s commandments and observe them, and you will not be led astray by your heart and your eyes, for they will seduce you to misbehave.”
I can imagine the casual shul-goer opening the pages of Eit Ratzon and saying to himself, “Is that what I’ve been mumbling without paying attention all these years? This speaks to me.” I can imagine the serious novice Jew, perhaps an adolescent, perhaps a recent convert, studying it in preparation for congregational worship and thinking to himself or herself, “Here is what I should have been thinking about but didn’t have the words.” There can be no greater tribute to a work of liturgy. Professor Rosenstein is to be congratulated for this superb guide to honest worship.
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From an Article by Abigail Pogrebin
Friday morning, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, I visit Romemu, a congregation which draws upon traditional and Eastern spiritual practices, and which visibly strives to make every prayer not just understandable but emotional.
Romemu uses a machzor (prayer book) that is more captivating than any I’ve seen before. Compiled by Joseph Rosenstein, a mathematician who teaches at Rutgers, it features a running explanation of why each prayer is there and how it connects to Torah or the liturgy as a whole. I feel suddenly certain that if every bored Jew held this book, they would never be bored again.
When I get home, I order a copy from Rosenstein’s website, newsiddur.org, and a day later, he sends a personal thank-you, attaching a review by Rabbi Harold Kushner – author of the best-selling book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” Kushner’s praise for Rosenstein’s elucidations don’t just confirm my own; it makes me feel even more strongly that this book could save synagogues.
“Rosenstein has succeeded in prying open the familiar prayers…exposing the kernel of relevance at its core,” Kushner writes. “Suddenly the text is transformed from ‘this is what you’re supposed to recite to be a good Jew’ to ‘this is something I need to think about but haven’t done so until now’ or ‘this is something my soul wanted to say but couldn’t find the words for.’”
For years, I’ve articulated—maybe too passionately—a conviction that uninspired Jews-in-pews would wake up if clergy could instruct during worship without interrupting it. When we’re informed, we’re moved; when we’re moved, we come back. I know there’s little chance that synagogues will switch over to Rosenstein’s prayerbook, but it’s heartening to know it exists.
In Abigail Pogrebin's subsequent book, "My Jewish Year" the following paragraph (pages 37-38) appears about Machzor Eit Ratzon, It applies just as well to Siddur Eit Ratzon.
"I need to mention this volume because it becomes my lifeboat throughout the morning. ... The structure of this book provides a running explanation of why each prayer is there and how it connects to Torah or to the liturgy as a whole. Looking up the author's name after the service, I am surprised to learn the book was compiled by a non-rabbi who was simply captivated by liturgy and eager to open it up for others. ... I am certain that if every bored Jew held this prayer book, they would never be bored again."
A mathematics professor at Rutgers University may not be the most likely author of a new siddur, but Joe Rosenstein of Highland Park came to this project with an abiding connection to Judaism and a pragmatism that may reflect his academic leanings. His approach in Siddur Eit Ratzon is to help people overcome obstacles they may face when trying to pray -- by offering meaningful translations, notes and comments, meditations, and transliterations.
Rosenstein talked about prayer and his new siddur to a crowd of 60 at the Highland Park Conservative Temple on Feb. 19; his presentation was titled "Positioning Ourselves for Meaningful Prayer." Jews come to services on Shabbat for a variety of reasons, said Rosenstein -- to hear a sermon, to attend a family celebration, to enjoy being part of a community, to say Kaddish, among others -- but few come because they want to daven, to pray.
One reason many are turned off, suggested Rosenstein, has to do with how prayers are created. Prayers are usually renderings of an immediate and intense spiritual experience that the prayer’s writer wanted to share. But once that prayer is locked into a siddur, it may eventually lose its potency, leaving its audience unable to access the insight that inspired it.
Rosenstein offers the example of the words at the close of the Sh’ma, "Adonai Eloheichem -- Adonai is your God," followed by the words "emet, v’yatziv," which begin a list of 16 adjectives. Rosenstein interprets the adjectives, which some might label as "boring," as expressing the amazement of the prayer’s writer at the fact that the creator of the universe is our personal God. Here is how Rosenstein begins his translation of this prayer:
"Adonai is your God ... and that is true! Wow! This teaching is so amazing, I cannot find enough words to describe it. It is definitely true and always will be".
Rosenstein suggests several types of obstacles that moderns encounter when trying to pray.
The first has to do with the nature of prayer. Most people think of prayer as petitions to God for help. "In the popular mind, prayer works," he said, "or at least most people think it does." Rosenstein jokes that he even sees this in his students, when they pray to get good grades on their exams. But, more seriously, he sees a serious obstacle between a culture that sees prayer as petitions that God answers and a God who did not answer people’s prayers for help during the Holocaust. This is a theological-philosophical obstacle to prayer.
Another obstacle to meaningful prayer has to do with uncomfortable content. A person may not, for example, believe in the resurrection of the dead, which is alluded to in the second blessing of the Amidah, the central prayer in every Jewish service.
To validate these kinds of concerns, Rosenstein deals openly with them in his siddur. On the issue of whether God responds to petitionary prayer, for example, he is straightforward in his belief that "God does not micromanage the universe."
Rosenstein presents prayer, therefore, as a way to recognize the blessings in our lives rather than as a petition to God for human needs. He quoted a passage from his siddur, "We could of course focus on all the things that go wrong, but if we focus instead on what goes right, we come to realize that we have many blessings, and that God is their source. An important prerequisite to prayer is an awareness of all that God provides.... Life, health, strength, courage, faith, security, caring, love, compassion, forgiveness, and many more blessings are God’s daily bounty."
Language also can get in the way -- prayers may seem boring, repetitive, obtuse, or archaic, or they may talk about God in problematic ways. And for people who can’t read Hebrew, a good transliteration and accessible translation of all the prayers is essential.
The last potential obstacle is the absence of the information needed to understand a service. Rosenstein likened confused worshipers to the crowds at the Rochester Red Wings Triple-A baseball stadium where as a vendor he used to shout, "You can’t tell the players without a scorecard." So now he faces helpless worshipers -- who don’t know what is going on globally or locally in the service -- and tells them, "You can’t tell the prayers without a scorecard."
And that’s what Rosenstein has tried to do in his siddur -- provide a "scorecard" that elucidates the spiritual journey through the different parts of the service, the meanings of individual prayers, the movement choreography, and "translations and comments that try to capture the prayers in language that makes sense to the contemporary reader."
Rosenstein was born in England after his parents finally managed to escape from the city-state Danzig the day before Hitler invaded. It was their fourth attempt to leave -- having already been sent back twice from Palestine and once from Sweden.
In 1948, when Rosenstein was eight, the family moved to Rochester, New York, where they had some relatives; the rest, as far as they knew, had been killed during the war.
Rosenstein’s mother came from a religious family and his father from one not so religious, but both were active in Jewish organizations of all sorts -- from the New Americans Club, Pioneer Women, and Labor Zionist organizations to the Yiddish Kultur Council and the Chug Ivri. Both of his parents studied Hebrew by correspondence and got certificates from the Hebrew University attesting to their ability to speak Hebrew.
Rosenstein and his sister had very different types of Jewish education. He was one of three students learning with a rebbe in his 80s who had once had a large cheder, and his sister attended the secularist Peretz Folkschule.
While Rosenstein was at Columbia University, he attended courses several evenings a week at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and subsequently he did a lot of Jewish text study b’chevruta, in pairs or triples.
For many years he has taught courses on all manner of Jewish topics, including prayer, at the Highland Park Conservative Temple-Anshe Emeth and at havurah institutes and retreats. Through his teaching as well as guided meditations he began to write to enhance understanding of particular prayers, Rosenstein began to really understand what was in the siddur. "It is hard to do that if you just go in for a service and spend an hour flying through the book," he observed. "I discovered that the authors of the siddur had amazing spiritual insights and if we understood them, we would be the better for it."
But why write a siddur? Rosenstein knew about the Jewish tradition of writing a Torah at age 50, but not being a sofer, or scribe, Rosenstein decided to try his hand at a siddur. At that time, in 2000, the Highland Park Minyan, where Rosenstein prays, was looking forward to the bat mitzvah of Miriam Dorman Langer, and he offered to try to put together a siddur for the occasion.
The enthusiastic responses he got spurred him through five revisions, and now his siddur is being used in over 30 different congregations. About a dozen or fifteen Conservative, Reconstructionist, and unaffiliated congregations have adopted it as their primary siddur. Others use it for learners’ services; synaplex, where several services are going on at the same time; and for education programs.
Attendees at the lecture asked a number of challenging questions, some theological in tone. One person asked whether Rosenstein was positing a form of dualism with his assumption that God is powerless in the face of evil but is at the same time the source of our blessings. Rosenstein said he believes that inherent in the blessings God provides are bad things like death and sickness. "It is the way the world is constructed," he said. "The world is a complicated place; you can focus on all the bad things that can happen; but the blessings are all around us and we can focus on them."
Another person asked how it is possible to pray meaningfully at a very fast-moving morning minyan. First Rosenstein observed sympathetically, "If a service is an express train, it’s hard to make it meaningful." Then he offered some suggestions: reading only every other paragraph or focusing on one word or phrase in a paragraph. "Just because everyone else on an express train doesn’t mean I have to be -- at least not all the time," he explains. "I’m part of a community whose goal is to end at 7:30 [a.m.], because people have to go to work, but spirituality demands that I say the prayers with a certain amount of kavanah."
Rabbi Malamut asked Rosenstein to reflect on being a liturgist, on how exhilarating and difficult it is to compose a prayer. "What makes something work or not work?" he asked. "Why is it that some siddurim coming out have no shelf life and expire the second they are published?"
One issue is currency, said Rosenstein. If prayers are too current or refer to current events, they can quickly lose their power as times change.
"Most people learn to pray superficially," Rosenstein said, "and probably don’t advance far from there because there is no impetus for them to do that." Probably most Jews, and this is true across the spectrum, he said, learn how to read and recite prayers at best and may recognize a few phrases here and there.
For him, it was creating this siddur that made all the difference. "One thing translating a siddur forced me to do was to deal with every word, every phrase and realize “Oh, that’s what that means,” and “Oh, that is connected to that.” Rosenstein offers his siddur as a compendium of the spiritual messages he has learned. "Realizing that most people are not aware of them," he said, "what I tried was to make it more possible for people to catch those messages."
I love it. I was reading it on a subway platform and I found myself davening... and I've never davened before! It's really beautiful. It's a way into Jewish prayer for me and I've never had one. Thank you. — Eric Davis, New York, New York
I absolutely love this siddur. It is so easy to navigate and I use it almost daily for davening. It is written in clear modern English that does not take away from the traditional. I love the way the Hebrew is line by line next to the English translation. This makes it very easy to move back and forth between Hebrew and English. This definitely should be a part of of every Jewish household library. — Chris Converse, Wasilla, AK
I loved the new siddur the moment I opened it! The language is relevant to the way I talk and interpreted in such a way that makes my davening in English very meaningful. I continue to be informed by the commentary and inspired by the Kavvanot and meditation. Thank you for creatively finding a way to enhance my daily worship.— Susan Diamond, Wheeling, IL
Thanks so much for writing a prayer book that assumes that we are all thinking individuals. I am really enjoying it! — Sue Stern, Dayville, CT
My whole Shabbat experience has been transformed by the spirituality with which you approach the explanations, translations and meditations. — Leslie Levy, Atlanta, GA
The siddur is the most meaningful I've ever seen, but organized prayer and Jewish prayer are not a steady part of my life. I wish I had seen it first when I was in Hebrew School and going to Temple practically every Saturday. — Susan Picker, Brooklyn, NY
I like your siddur very much. Since I am from Russia and didn’t have the opportunity to touch my religion, I have a lot of questions about services. Now I am getting the answers. Thanks a lot. — Zara Nemchenok, Brookline, MA
While I am very spiritual and very much a believer in God, I sure wasn't getting the warm feeling from services that other people professed to feel. I saw a sample copy of your siddur at Shul a couple of months ago. I was so impressed I put my order in for a copy immediately. The English is so friendly, the translations are what I keep thinking of as 'user friendly', and the transliteration is so readable. I feel like someone is holding my hand as I read the book. For the first time in 56 years, I can go to a Shabbat service and follow along with the leaders. ... what I've written doesn't even begin to describe what I feel like when I go to services. It's like someone turned the light on for me where I've been in the dark for so long. Thank you, so much, for the effort you put into this book. I have been singing the praises of Eit Ratzon to everyone who will listen. — Nancy Kalef, Southfield, MI
I could go on and on about the many blessings I have gotten from the Siddur, but I will save us both time and give you just one: "Every moment is the right time for prayer." It seems so silly to have thought for so long the only time for prayer was in temple or as part of my morning meditation or while lighting Shabbat candles! Now prayer - gratitude in particular, but also frequently praise - punctuates my day any number of times throughout the day (e.g. right now, thanking God for your Siddur and sending blessings to you). This simple reallignment of perspective is a huge blessing in my life. Thank you so very much. I took the Siddur down the Colorado River with me and conducted my own prayer services every morning and most nights throughout Elul. — Rob Elliott, Flagstaff, AZ
You truly capture the spirit of the prayers and the intended meaning of the individual words, even when idiomatic or elusive. I will be buying several copies to give as presents to like-minded friends. I believe you have created a real winner in this publication. Our jewish (and non-jewish) brothers and sisters will be enriched by its spiritual feel and by the apparent beauty with which you evidently see the world - and ourselves. — Jonathan Kramer, Pittsfield, MA.
This is a rich creation, one which can be used by the new davener for learning and the experienced davener for inspiration. Eit Ratzon is not just another interesting Siddur, it is a spiritual and intellectual endeavor of incredible depth, conceived by a prayer master. We had the opportunity to use Eit Ratzon at our daughter's Bat Mitzvah. The Siddur received multiple compliments from our guests including Jews active in communal life and non-religious Jewish friends. Not to be missed. — Bruce Birnberg, East Brunswick, NJ
As someone who rebels against blind confining patterns, I was thrilled with the 'alternatives' and explanations. — Karen Alkalay-Gut, Tel Aviv, Israel
I've now used versions of Siddur Eit Ratzon for almost 4 years. It's wonderful to have a complete siddur for the Shabbat and holidays that I can use, as written. The Hebrew is complete, the English sensitive to gender and other concerns. I constantly learn from the notes; the kavvanot strenghten my prayers; and many of the "new prayers" or additions fulfill previously unmet prayers needs, in a style and voice that is internally consistent and is not a jarring departure from traditional styles. Siddur Eit Ratzon has great integrity and is a wonderful contribution to the spiritual life and growth of the community. — Jerry Langer, Highland Park, NJ
I have had the pleasure of davening from this very special siddur, with its generally traditional Hebrew and its beautiful, egalitarian translations, kavannot and notes. I experience Siddur Eit Ratzon as a gift from Joe of his deep learning and spirituality, and I feel most blessed to be the fortunate recipient.— Judy Richman, Highland Park, NJ
I'd like to add my endorsement of the new Siddur Eit Ratzon. Every word of the Hebrew is transliterated; the spiritual journey of the liturgy is explicitly laid out; wherever there is something new, the traditional is preserved to allow for choice; and the commentaries are thoughtful and illuminating. It's a magnificent contribution.— Chayyim ben Fishel, Portland, Maine
I find that the Siddur is easy to davven from and lead from. The layout is spacious. That helps me to slow down and breathe, to rest on a line, go deep, and really taste it. The side notes and alternatives are excellent and help to deepen the davvening. Your translations are fresh and breathe life into and add new dimensions to the tefilah. And having the interlinear English/Hebrew/transliteration is a crying omission from many Siddurim; this will allow people of all levels to participate with ease. In short, I really like it and am glad that you created it. — David Blumenstein, Alexandria, Virginia
Every page is complete, taking you from printed text to feeling, from feeling to intent, from intent toward the Presence of the Divine.
— Mitchell Chefitz, author of The Seventh Telling and The Thirty-third Hour
Joe Rosenstein's siddur is a wonderful new resource for all those who want the Jewish prayerbook to speak to them as well as to God. The gender-inclusive language and user-friendly format provides an accessible entry into the world of the traditional siddur. Even those well-versed in the traditional Hebrew liturgy will find much in this siddur to re-invigorate and renew their prayer life. Especially useful are the many aids to meditation and contemplative experience within the service. And it is refreshing to find a prayerbook free of ideology and denominational bias.
— Dr. Ellen Frankel is the Editor-in-Chief of The Jewish Publication Society and the author of The Five Books of Miriam.
I have examined Siddur Eit Ratzon and davened with it. This siddur is a superb contribution to Jewish life. The editor, Joseph Rosenstein, has fashioned a tool for spiritual experience, stimulating genuine kavvanah. It is serious and deep, yet highly usable, uplifting, and richly personal. The siddur reflects Joe's years of meditative practice and his deep knowledge of liturgy and traditional texts. He has a wonderfully light touch, conveying much without burdening the davener. His goal throughout is to intensify the prayer experience-and he suceeds marvelously. This siddur is in a class by itself.
—Daniel Matt, author of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition
Not all times are equal to allow us to enter into a true prayer-space. We need an eit ratzon, a time of gentle receptivity for our prayer. Not every siddur enables us to enter a true prayer-space. But Siddur Eit Ratzon does. It allows us to go beyond the words and place ourselves in the presence of the living God.
— Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, author of Jewish with Feeling
Your siddur is such an interesting combination of frum and free. I love it's ability to throw off the girdle constricting davening today. And, bottom line, I love this siddur. It is inspirational in the best sense of the word; it allows us to reclaim davening for the open-heart experience it was meant to be. I used it days after each other to see if I would get tired of the text. It seemed to me that there was always some new tidbit I had missed in an earlier reading. And the translations are beautiful and true, giving new resonance to the original Hebrew. Yasher koach, Joe.
— Sharon Strassfeld, co-author of The Jewish Catalog (First, Second, and Third)
Siddur Eit Ratzon serves as a "Shabbat and Festival Morning companion" to Siddur Chaveirim Kol Yisraeil, a Friday night siddur edited by the Progressive Chavurah/Siddur Committee and published by Ktav, 2000. However, Siddur Eit Ratzon goes one step further. While Siddur Chaveirim Kol Yisraeil was intended to reflect a multiplicity of practices, viewpoints, and interpretations from several contributors, Joe's single voice in the commentary and translation reflects his own thinking about critical issues of theology and spirituality. He poses and answers questions such as "Does God micromanage the universe?" and "Does prayer work?" He recognizes that modern circumstances suggest new prayers reflecting the needs of liberal Jews and communities to offer prayers of petition, praise, and remembrance. In cases where Joe has taken poetic liberties with the Hebrew texts or English translations, he notes the more traditional or literal renditions in the commentary. Often the explanations for his "changes" leave the reader to wonder if they are really "changes back" to what the prayer should have said in the first place. As we did with Siddur Chaveirim Kol Yisraeil, Joe's work with Siddur Eit Ratzon continues the process of creating a trans-denominational liturgy that makes prayer more meaningful and accessible to seekers and worshippers of all backgrounds.
— Mark Frydenberg, Editor, Siddur Chaveirim Kol Yisraeil
Thank you for creating this Siddur. I watch the people who come in and who before sat in silence. Now, their eyes are focused on the book and song is coming forth from their lips
— Rabbi Ted Feldman, Bnai Israel Jewish Center, Petaluma CA
The Siddur really makes a huge difference in making a traditional service accessible, intelligible, and non-chauvinist.
—Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Shirat HaNefesh, Silver Spring MD.
Siddur Eit Ratzon has been an incredible addition to our synagogue life. Since our Keruv Committee made the gift of several copies of the Siddur for our main Sanctuary, we have seen an increase in participation in and understanding of the Shabbat morning prayer service. We are now delighted that our Keruv Committee is expanding their gift with the purchase of enough copies of Siddur Eit Ratzon to place one in each row of the main Sanctuary as a companion to our regular siddur Sim Shalom.
They have developed a page chart which matches the pages in both books so everyone can follow along in the service, regardless of which book they use. The reflections provided by the Siddur Eit Ratzon are inspiring, the guideposts enlightening, and the transliteration is invaluable in helping those who do not yet read Hebrew nevertheless be participants in the service rather than confused spectators. Thank you, Joseph Rosenstein, for this wonderful contribution to our synagogue and to the Jewish world.
— Rabbi Michelle Robinson, Associate Rabbi, Temple Emanuel, Newton, Massachusetts
Our Reconstructionist congregation, the Chapel Hill Kehillah, recently deliberated on the selection of a siddur for our Shabbat morning services. The strongest input we received was that for people without the ability to follow, read, and sing from the Hebrew text, an easily used transliteration is essential to feeling welcome and connected at services. Easy navigation, a pleasing English translation, and adequate supplemental readings and explanations were also considered valuable. And, of course, the English translations had to be egalitarian.
Of the siddurim we considered, we settled on Siddur Eit Ratzon because it was the only siddur with a line-by-line transliteration, and also because of its strong and extremely engaging translations and supplemental commentary. We feel this commentary will be of great educational value both to our members, and to occasional visitors such as those attending bar and bat mitzvah celebrations.
Another useful feature of this siddur is that it offers both the traditional and the Reconstructionist version of key words and verses in certain prayers, allowing worshipers to privately choose a different version than is being sung aloud if they desire. This honors the right of members to their own beliefs. A drawback is that in a few places where alternatives are offered, none of the alternatives match the particular reconstructed wording we have become used to from our previous siddur; we hope that current preparations for a second printing will enable us to purchase copies of a version of Siddur Eit Ratzon that is more consistent our practice.
— Phil Lorang, Ritual Committee Chair, Chapel Hill Kehillah, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The Highland Park Minyan uses Siddur Eit Ratzon because it's "ours"— ours not only because it was written by our beloved Joe Rosenstein, but also because it reflects who we are — egalitarian, inclusive, progressive, engaged Jews who love to daven in a way that's traditional, meaningful and joyful.
The Minyan uses Siddur Eit Ratzon for its Shabbat and holiday prayer services, as well as for periodic study sessions. Two words that occur to me to describe our Minyan’s view of Siddur Eit Ratzon are lovingly respectful. I experience the siddur as having grown from a deep love and respect for prayer and our tradition, as well as loving respect for our individual sensibilities, similarities and differences. As for me, I especially love the translations and commentaries, many of which speak directly to my heart and mind.
The translations of Birchot haShachar are a particular favorite of mine. With only a few extra words, the siddur highlights the depth and richness that underlie each of the morning blessings. Siddur Eit Ratzon has become an integral part of our chavurah, as well as the siddur that I use for my personal davening.
— Judith Richman, Co-Chair, Highland Park Minyan, Highland Park, New Jersey
We began using Siddur Eit Ratzon in our Learner's Minyan at B'nai Israel. Participants were so enamored with the Siddur that they decided they were not just "learner's" anymore and the minyan has grown into a vibrant monthly Chavurah Shabbat Minyan. When the Chavurah Minyan is not meeting, Siddur Eit Ratzon is available in the sanctuary bookcases for study, for use of transliterations or for just enjoyment. Congregants enjoy the commentary, translations, clear directions and creative options that are incorporated within Siddur Eit Ratzon. It is a welcome enrichment to Shabbat at our congregation.
— David Kaiman, Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Israel, Gainesville, Florida
Chavurat Lamdeinu is an inclusive Jewish community that delights in prayer and study. We have been using Siddur Eit Ratzon for about a year [since 2004] and have been very happy with it. Since our members are wildly diverse in terms of involvement in and exposure to Jewish prayer and teaching, we needed a prayerbook that would satisfy our different spiritual and intellectual needs. Siddur Eit Ratzon succeeds brilliantly.
We chose it because it offered a traditional service with plenty of important extras. The transliteration keeps everyone on the same page and does not exclude the non-Hebrew reading individual. It is very user-friendly and rich in its offerings. The kavvanot provide additional chomer l'drush when some one needs a break from the liturgy, as do the suggestions for meditation. The theology espoused is meaningful and does not shy away from the problems created by the traditional liturgy.
Everyone in our group likes its willingness to accommodate our different needs and beliefs; the use or non-use of the Matriarchs,"geulah" or "goel," for example. We appreciate the love and thoughtfulness that are evident on every page and the cheerful, yellow binding as well.
— Rabbi Ruth Gais, Chavurat Lamdeinu, Madison, New Jersey
A generous family donated one copy of Siddur Eit Ratzon in honor of each bar and bat mitzvah student this past year . The transliteration in this Siddur makes it possible for non- Hebrew-reading guests at b'nai mitzvot to have an easier time following the Shabbat service. The non-Hebrew-reading adult members have also enjoyed using the Siddur on a weekly basis along with Siddur Sim Shalom. It has helped them to learn parts of the service more easily, and they have enjoyed the commentary and translation. Overall, Siddur Eit Ratzon has enhanced their participation in services.
— Robert Factor, Beth Israel Center, Madison Wisconsin
The four column layout is remarkably easy to access and makes it very easy to follow during the service. The kavanot, meditations and explanations really enhance the prayer experience and can be used privately at home for study. The new translations are wonderful. They give new meaning and understanding to traditional prayers and make them very relevant for the 21st century.
— Hazzan Eva Robbins, Congregation N'vay Shalom, Los Angeles, California
Siddur Eit Ratzon is a masterwork in three ways: 1) helpful, sleek transliteration, 2) graceful, lovely translation and 3) illuminating meditations on the liturgy. And as Kohelet says: "This three-fold cord is not easily broken"! Whether learning the liturgy for the first time, or seeking greater meaning in prayers known since childhood, any Jew's prayer experience will be enhanced by Joe Rosenstein's work.
— Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanovsky, Ansche Chesed, New York, New York