The oldest known siddur in the world. From the 9th century[1]

A siddur (Hebrew: סִדּוּר sīddūr, [siˈduʁ, 'sɪdəʁ]; plural siddurim סִדּוּרִים [siduˈʁim]) is a Jewish prayer book containing a set order of daily prayers. The word siddur comes from the Hebrew root ס־ד־ר‎, meaning 'order.'

Other terms for prayer books are tefillot (תְּפִלּוֹת‎) among Sephardi Jews, tefillah among German Jews, and tiklāl (תכלאל) among Yemenite Jews.


The earliest parts of Jewish prayer books are the Shema Yisrael ("Hear O Israel") (Deuteronomy 6:4 et seq) and the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26), which are in the Torah. A set of eighteen (currently nineteen) blessings called the Shemoneh Esreh or the Amidah (Hebrew, "standing [prayer]"), is traditionally ascribed to the Great Assembly in the time of Ezra, at the end of the biblical period.[2]

The name Shemoneh Esreh, literally "eighteen", is a historical anachronism, since it now contains nineteen blessings. It was only near the end of the Second Temple period that the eighteen prayers of the weekday Amidah became standardized. Even at that time their precise wording and order was not yet fixed, and varied from locale to locale. Many modern scholars[who?] believe that parts of the Amidah came from the Hebrew apocryphal work Ben Sira.[citation needed]

According to the Talmud, soon after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem a formal version of the Amidah was adopted at a rabbinical council in Yavne, under the leadership of Gamaliel II and his colleagues. However, the precise wording was still left open. The order, general ideas, opening and closing lines were fixed. Most of the wording was left to the individual reader. It was not until several centuries later that the prayers began to be formally fixed. By the Middle Ages the texts of the prayers were nearly fixed, and in the form in which they are still used today.

The Siddur was printed by Soncino in Italy as early as 1486, though a Siddur was first mass-distributed only in 1865.[3] The Siddur began appearing in the vernacular as early as 1538.[3] The first English translation was published in London in 1738 by an author writing under the pseudonym Gamaliel ben Pedahzur; a different translation was released in the United States in 1837.[3]


Readings from the Torah (five books of Moses) and the Nevi'im ("Prophets") form part of the prayer services. To this framework various Jewish sages added, from time to time, various prayers, and, for festivals especially, numerous hymns.

The earliest existing codification of the prayerbook was drawn up by Amram ben Sheshna of Sura Academy in Sawad, the Abbasid Caliphate, an area known as "Babylonia" in Jewish texts, about 850 CE (Seder Rav ʿAmram). Half a century later, Saadia Gaon, also of Sura, composed a siddur (see Siddur of Saadia Gaon), in which the rubrical matter is in Judeo-Arabic. These were the basis of Simhah ben Samuel of Vitry's 11th century Machzor Vitry, which was based on the ideas of his teacher, Rashi. Another formulation of the prayers was that appended by Maimonides to the Book of Love in his Mishneh Torah: this forms the basis of the Yemenite liturgy, and has had some influence on other rites. From this point forward all Jewish prayerbooks had the same basic order and contents.

Two authoritative versions of the Ashkenazi siddur were those of Shabbetai Sofer in the 16th century and Seligman Baer in the 19th century; siddurim have also been published reflecting the views of Jacob Emden and the Vilna Gaon.

Different Jewish rites

Main article: Nusach (Jewish custom)

Nusach Ashkenaz Siddur from Irkutsk, Russia, printed in 1918

There are differences among, amongst others, the Sephardic (including Spanish and Portuguese and Mizrachim), Teimani (Yemenite), Hasidic, Ashkenazic (divided into German, Polish and other European and eastern-European rites), Bené Roma or Italkim, Romaniote (Greek, once extending to Turkey, Crimea and the southern Italian peninsula) and also Persian, Kurdish, Bukharian, Georgian, Mountain Jewish, Ethiopian and Cochin-Jewish liturgies. Most of these are slight differences in the wording of the prayers; for instance, Oriental Sephardic and some Hasidic prayer books state "חננו מאתך חכמה בינה ודעת", "Graciously bestow upon us from You wisdom (ḥochmah), understanding (binah) and knowledge (daat)", in allusion to the Kabbalistic sefirot of those names, while the Nusach Ashkenaz, as well as Western Sephardic and other Hasidic versions retain the older wording "חננו מאתך דעה בינה והשכל", "Graciously bestow upon us from You knowledge, understanding, and reason". In some cases, however, the order of the preparation for the Amidah is drastically different, reflecting the different halakhic and kabbalistic formulae that the various scholars relied on in assembling their prayer books, as well as the minhagim, or customs, or their locales.

Some forms of the Sephardic rite are considered to be very overtly kabbalistic, depending on how far they reflect the ritual of Isaac Luria (see Lurianic Kabbalah). This is partly because the Tetragrammaton frequently appears with varying vowel points beneath the letters (unpronounced, but to be meditated upon) and different Names of God appear in small print within the final hei (ה) of the Tetragrammaton. In some editions, there is a Psalm in the preparations for the Amidah that is printed in the outline of a menorah, and the worshipper meditates on this shape as he recites the psalm.

While the Ashkenazic rite does contain some kabbalistic elements, such as acrostics and allusions to the sefirot ("To You, God, is the greatness [gedullah], and the might [gevurah], and the glory [tiferet], longevity [netzach],..." etc.), these are not easily seen unless the reader is already initiated. It is notable that although many other traditions avoid using the poem Anim Zemiroth on the Sabbath, for fear that its holiness would be less appreciated due to the frequency of the Sabbath, the poem is usually sung by Ashkenazi congregations before concluding the Sabbath Musaf service with the daily psalm. The ark is opened for the duration of the song.

Hasidim, though usually ethnically Ashkenazi, usually use liturgies with varying degrees of Sephardic influence, such as Nusach Sefard and Nusach Ari, in order to follow the order of the prayers set by Rabbi Isaac Luria, often called "Ari HaKadosh", or "The Holy Lion". Although the Ari himself was born Ashkenazi, he borrowed many elements from Sephardi and other traditions, since he felt that they followed Kabbalah and Halacha more faithfully. The Ari did not publish any siddur, but orally transmitted his particular usages to his students with interpretations and certain meditations.[4] Many siddurim containing some form of the Sephardic rite together with the usages of the Ari were published, both by actual Sephardic communities and for the use of Hasidim and other Ashkenazim interested in Kabbalah. In 1803, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi compiled an authoritative siddur from the sixty siddurim that he checked for compliance with Hebrew grammar, Jewish law, and Kabbalah: some call this siddur "Nusach Ari", and is used by Lubavitch Hasidim. Those that use Nusach HaAri claim that it is an all-encompassing nusach that is valid for any Jew, no matter what his ancestral tribe or identity,[5] a view attributed to the Maggid of Mezeritch.[citation needed]

The Mahzor of each rite is distinguished by hymns (piyyutim). The most important writers are Jose ben Jose, probably in the 4th-5th century CE, chiefly known for his compositions for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; Yanai; Eleazar Kalir, the founder of the payyetanic style, perhaps in the 7th century; Saadia Gaon; the Spanish school, consisting of Joseph ibn Abitur (died in 970), ibn Gabirol, Isaac Gayyath, Moses ibn Ezra, Abraham ibn Ezra and Judah ha-Levi, Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides) and Isaac Luria; and the Ashkenazic and French schools including Shimon bar Yitzchak, Meir bar Yitzchak and many others.

The Ari recited only early piyyutim, such as those by Eleazar Kalir, but did not like the Sephardic piyyutim.[6] Therefore, on holidays he would daven (recite the prescribed liturgical prayers) with Ashkenazim -- as opposed to his practice the rest of the year to daven with Sephardim -- in order to recite their piyyutim, which include many more earlier piyyutim. For this reason, many Hasidim (such Belz and Viznitz) recite many piyyutim on Yom Tov and the sabbaths of the four special portions preceding Passover in accordance with the practice of the Ari. However, in Sephardic communities which accepted most of the practices of the Ari, they never accepted the Ashkenazic piyyutim.

Complete and weekday siddurim

Some siddurim have only prayers for weekdays; others have prayers for weekdays and Shabbat. Many have prayers for weekdays, Shabbat, and the three Biblical festivals, Sukkot (the feast of Tabernacles), Shavuot (the feast of weeks) and Pesach (Passover). The latter are referred to as a Siddur Shalem ("complete siddur").

Variations and additions on holidays

A siddur created on the occasion of a wedding in 1971, Oświęcim. Collection of the Auschwitz Jewish Center

Popular siddurim

Below are listed many popular siddurim used by religious Jews. This list mostly excludes prayer books specifically for the High Holidays; see Machzor (Popular versions).

Variety of popular Siddurim.

Ashkenazi Orthodox

Main articles: Ashkenazi Jews and Orthodox Judaism

Hasidic or Nusach Sefard Siddurim

Italian Rite

Main articles: Italian Jews and Italian Nusach

Romaniote Rite

Main article: Romaniote Jews

1803 Sephardic prayer book, in the Jewish Museum of Switzerland’s collection.


Main article: List of Sephardic prayer books

Israel and diaspora

Israeli, following Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

These siddurim follow the halakha of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (1920–2013)[13] a Talmudic scholar, and authority on Jewish religious law, and spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-orthodox Shas party. Yosef believed that the Sephardic halakhic tradition favoured leniency, and these principles are reflected in his siddurim. please note, these siddurim are also for the Edot Ha-mizrach communities.

Sephardic Women's Siddur

Some notable editions are:

Spanish and Portuguese Jews

Main article: Spanish and Portuguese Jews

(Characterised by relative absence of Kabbalistic elements:)

Greek, Turkish and Balkan Sephardim

(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)

North African Jews

(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements, except for the Moroccan siddurim which generally contain fewer Kabbalistic elements:)

Middle Eastern Mizrachim (Sephardim)

(Usually characterised by presence of Kabbalistic elements:)

Edot Ha-mizrach (Iraqi)

Yemenite Jews (Teimanim)

Main article: Yemenite Jews


Main article: Baladi-rite prayer

The Baladi Jews (from Arabic balad, country) follow the legal rulings of the Rambam (Maimonides) as codified in his work the Mishneh Torah. Rabbi Yiḥye Tsalaḥ (Maharits) revised this liturgy to end friction between traditionalists (who followed Rambam's rulings and the siddur as it developed in Yemen) and Kabbalists who followed the innovations of the Ari. This prayer book makes very few additions or changes and substantially follows the older Yemenite tradition as it had existed prior to this conflict.


The Shami Jews (from Arabic ash-Sham, the north, referring to Palestine or Damascus) represent those who accepted the Sephardic rite, after being exposed to new inexpensive, typeset prayer books brought from Israel and the Sephardic diaspora by envoys and merchants in the late 17th century and 18th century.[14][15] The "local rabbinic leadership resisted the new versions....Nevertheless, the new prayer books were widely accepted."[15] As part of that process, the Shami modified their rites to accommodate the usages of the Ari to the maximum extent. The text of the Shami siddur now largely follows the Sephardic tradition, though the pronunciation, chant and customs are still Yemenite in flavour.

Minhagei Eretz Yisrael

Conservative Judaism

Main article: Conservative Judaism

Progressive and Reform Judaism

Main article: Reform Judaism

All of the following are published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

Reconstructionist Judaism

Main article: Reconstructionist Judaism

Kol Haneshamah: Shabbat Vehagim

Prayer books edited by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan and others:

Kol Haneshamah Prayerbook series, ed. David Teutsch:

Jewish Renewal

Main article: Jewish Renewal

Feminist siddurim

Siddur Nashim, by Margaret Wenig and Naomi Janowitz in 1976, was the first Jewish prayer book to refer to God using female pronouns and imagery.[19]

Reconstructionist Rabbi Rebecca Alpert (Reform Judaism, Winter 1991) commented:

The experience of praying with Siddur Nashim... transformed my relationship with God. For the first time, I understood what it meant to be made in God's image. To think of God as a woman like myself, to see Her as both powerful and nurturing, to see Her imaged with a woman's body, with womb, with breasts – this was an experience of ultimate significance. Was this the relationship that men have had with God for all these millennia? How wonderful to gain access to those feelings and perceptions.[citation needed]

Following in the footsteps of feminist prayerbooks, liberal prayerbooks tend increasingly to avoid male-specific words and pronouns, seeking that all references to God in translations be made in gender-neutral language. For example, the UK Liberal movement's Siddur Lev Chadash (1995) does so, as does the UK Reform Movement's Forms of Prayer (2008).[20][21] In Mishkan T'filah, the American Reform Jewish prayer book released in 2007, references to God as “He” have been removed, and whenever Jewish patriarchs are named (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), so also are the matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah).[22]

Humanistic and atheist siddurim

Yoreh writes about his work: "I think prayer is communal and private expression of hopes, fears, an appreciation of aesthetic beauty, good attributes. But that has nothing to do with God."[citation needed]

Other siddurim

There are also some Karaite, Samaritan and Sabbatean[24] prayer books.[example needed]

See also


  1. ^ The oldest Siddur in the world has been unveiled to the public On the Channel 7 website]
  2. ^ Berakhot 33a.
  3. ^ a b c Jager, Elliot (April 17, 2007). "Power and Politics: Prayer books and resurrection". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Nusach HaAri Siddur, published by Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch.
  5. ^ Introduction to Siddur Tehilat Hashem.
  6. ^ Magen Avraham OC 68, in the introduction to the simal.
  7. ^ Rosenblatt, Jonathan. "A New Dialogue With The Divine". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on May 28, 2009. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  8. ^ Harris, Ben (April 5, 2009). "ArtScroll facing challenge from Modern Orthodox". JTA. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  9. ^ Katz, Yossi (September 17, 2014). "Siddur & Umam Updates". Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  10. ^ ""Nussach Ari" auf Deutsch". 16 October 2017.
  11. ^ Leubner, Florian; Gkoumas, Panagiotis (2017). The Haggadah According to the Custom of the Romaniote Jews of Crete. ISBN 9783743133853. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Sennis, Panagiotis; Leubner, Florian (2018). Prayerbook According to The Rite of The Romaniote Jews. ISBN 9783746091419. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  13. ^ Keinon, Herb; Cashman, Greer Fay; Hoffman, Gil Stern Stern (October 8, 2013). "Netanyahu, Peres Remember 'Torah Giaant'". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  14. ^ Tobi, Yosef (2004). "Caro's Shulhan Arukh Versus Maimonides' Mishne Torah in Yemen". In Lifshitz, Berachyahu (ed.). The Jewish Law Annual. Vol. 15. Routledge. p. PT253. ISBN 9781134298372. Retrieved November 20, 2018. Two additional factors played a crucial role in the eventual adoption by the majority of Yemenite Jewry of the new traditions, traditions that originate, for the most part, in the land of Israel and the Sefardic communities of the Diaspora. One was the total absence of printers in Yemen: no works reflecting the local (baladi) liturgical and ritual customs could be printed, and they remained in manuscript. By contrast, printed books, many of which reflected the Sefardic (shami) traditions, were available, and not surprisingly, more and more Yemenite Jews preferred to acquire the less costly and easier to read printed books, notwithstanding the fact that they expressed a different tradition, rather than their own expensive and difficult to read manuscripts. The second factor was the relatively rich flow of visitors to Yemen, generally emissaries of the Jewish communities and academies in the land of Israel, but also merchants from the Sefardic communities. […] By this slow but continuous process, the Shami liturgical and ritual tradition gained every more sympathy and legitimacy, at the expense of the baladi.
  15. ^ a b Simon, Reeva S.; Laskier, Mikha'el M.; Reguer, Sara (2003). The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in modern times. Columbia University Press. p. 398. ISBN 9780231107969. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "Torah for Those Who Dare to Think". Machon Shilo. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  17. ^ Nusach Eretz Yisrael- Compact and User-Friendly: The Shabbath Amidah. Machon Shilo. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  18. ^ Hannukah: The Eretz Yisrael Version- Shiur with Rabbi David Bar-Hayim. Machon Shilo. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  19. ^ Shannon Weber (4 June 2019). Feminism in Minutes. Quercus. pp. 286–. ISBN 978-1-63506-142-0.
  20. ^ Goldstein, Rabbi Dr Andrew (July 4, 2008). "The slimline siddur with a touch of Bob Dylan". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  21. ^ "Siddur Lev Chadash". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  22. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (September 3, 2007). "In New Prayer Book, Signs of Broad Change". The New York Times. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  23. ^ Estrin, Elana (January 13, 2010). "No God? No Problem". Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  24. ^ Ben Zvi Institute Manuscript 2276