The rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday in Israel and the world, by publishing a new prayerbook (siddur) with German translation.
The prayer book, whose production spanned four years, features close to 1,400 pages of clear print and attractive design. It’s the first time in more than a century that a one-volume complete Orthodox prayer book has been printed in Germany encompassing all daily and holiday prayers with contemporary German translation, along with instructions and explanations regarding the prayers, Teichtal noted.
“This prayer book has all the prayers that a person needs for the entire year, including the holidays, except from Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur,” he said.
While in the process of compiling the prayer book, Rabbi Teichtal also founded a Jewish publishing house in Berlin, which he named “Juedisches” — with the prayer book becoming its first publication.
“Publishing this prayer book is also our way of announcing the opening of a new Jewish publishing house in Germany,” Teichtal said.
The next stage is for Juedisches to print other foundational Jewish works. Presently, the publishing house is working to produce a Book of Psalms with German translation, and to date, approximately one-third of the job is already complete. It is being published in conjunction and with the permission of Kehot, an American publishing house under the auspices of the Chabad-Lubavitch World movement.
Rabbi Teichtal noted, “For hundreds of years, one of the main ways of commemorating the tribulations in Jewish history was through prayer. This year, I’m certain that reciting the prayer ‘Almight-y, filled with Compassion,’ in memory of the six million who were murdered in the Holocaust, will evoke great emotion in me, because I will be reciting it along with the contemporary German translation as appears in the new prayer book.
“Aside from the technical advantage of translating the prayers into German, I feel that one way to encourage the younger generation to join us in remembering and honoring the past is by linking memories of the past to a revitalized movement of Jewish spirituality.
“The fact that specifically here, in a place where they attempted to exterminate European Jewry, there is now a vibrant, active Jewish community, as manifest by the publication of one of the most prominent and basic Jewish works in the German language, attests to the spiritual force and power of humanity, and of the Jewish nation in particular. I sincerely hope that this will be a source of inspiration and message of unity to a younger generation.”
The new prayer book is called Tehillat Hashem and comprises some 1,400 pages, half of which are in Hebrew and the other half in German. Aside from the actual prayers, translation, and elucidation, the prayer book also includes Ethics of the Fathers; Torah readings for Mondays, Thursdays and Holidays; and basic Jewish laws of prayer. The prayer section is divided into Weekday, Sabbath, Holiday, and fast days. The project was completed by a team of five, including a main editor, translators, and proofreaders, all of whom are members of the Jewish community in Berlin. The endeavor was made possible thanks to generous support of the community.
Several copies of the prayer book arrived in Germany this past week from Israel, where it was printed. The vast majority of the shipment will arrive in the coming weeks, and the prayer book will be available for purchase in German Jewish communities, on the Swiss Jewish website Books & Bagels, and on Amazon.