It almost goes without saying that the last few months have been a challenge. The COVID19 pandemic, aside from the obvious effects on people’s physical health, the corona virus has strained, on a global scale, government services, the economy, individual psychological wellbeing and much, much more. Something else, though, that the months long lockdown, quarantining, and self-isolation has done is drastically changed the relationship many have with prayer. We refer not only to people finding solace in spirituality when the world was turned on its head, but the closure of synagogues and prayer groups, and now their slow return to something resembling normality, has given people the chance to reassess how they pray.
With the availability of a minyan, the required quorum of ten adult men for a Jewish prayer service, people were left to pray at home, alone or with their families. The plethora of siddurim available from Koren Publishers, based in Jerusalem but available worldwide, have allowed each and every individual to find a formula that works for them to connect on a deeper level with the prayer services. The basic layout of the Koren siddurim, with an abundance of line breaks, clear fonts, and lots of negative space, allow the worshiper to slow down, focus on the words, and experience their deeper meaning. And with a choice of masterful commentaries, from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (The Rav), to Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, and, of course, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks who, a decade ago, brought new life to our understanding of tefilla with his beautiful translation.
The Magerman Edition Koren Educational Siddur Series has also allowed adults and young people alike to find deeper and more meaningful fulfilment from their prayers. More than that, during a time in which parents may have needed help encouraging their children to pray, the Children’s and Youth siddurim, with guided questions, commentary and discussion by Dr. Daniel Rose, provides essential tools for parents to use.
But now, looking forward to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when, in a normal year, synagogues around the world are packed to capacity, there is still uncertainty about where and how many of us will be able to say the holiday prayers. That is where three books from the Koren Publishers family come in.
The first is the Koren Sacks Mahzor for the Yamim Noraim, the all-in-one Mahzor published for Rosh Hashana 2019, contains all the necessary tefillot with Rabbi Sacks’ commentary and translation to uplift your prayer experience especially when a home or away from the usual setting. Next is the Yearning to Return by Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi. Rabbanit Yemima is an educator and speaker who has inspired 1000s of people with her short but insightful messages of hope, happiness, spirituality and more. Finally is Prepare my Prayer by Rabbi Dov Singer, this pocket sized book contains short messages and ideas, often only a few words, to elevate ones prayers and engage with the services in a meaningful way.