Transliterated Siddur 2.0 Comes to Shabbat Morning Minyan
By Adam Barron, Jewish Learning Committee Co-Chair
Since 1991, a small but proud group of “Minyanaires” have met once a month for a Shabbat morning minyan at BCC. Without fighting traffic they start at 10:00 and enjoy a leisurely service. They read morning blessings and prayers and follow with three Torah chantings and an illuminating discussion. They then move to the lunchroom for fellowship and a dairy potluck.
When I first came to BCC, Rabbi Lisa suggested I try the minyan. I imagined long, serious Torah readings and an incomprehensible liturgy. What I found was the opposite. Lay leaders Steve Sass and Steve Hochstadt greeted me warmly. In an intimate, sometimes humorous atmosphere we each participated at our own levels. The melodies of the songs were rousing. Some taken from Conservative services and others from youth camps, they sent a chill of Shabbat joy up my spine.
Despite my limited Hebrew, I have continued to attend. I resonate with the prayers. I like being close to the Torah. I feel awe that Jews have chanted Torah like this for twenty centuries. I relish spending Shabbat morning with my loving BCC community.
Our minyan has had dozens of visitors. Some report that they enjoy the mood, the intimacy, and the melodies, but they get lost in the pages or cannot read the Hebrew. Until recently, we had no apparent solution.
Four years ago a fully transliterated siddur became available. This “trilinear” translation would allow non-fluent Hebrew readers to follow along, and even learn the meanings of Hebrew words.
We purchased several books, but we met with a setback. The pages in the original and transliterated versions did not quite match up, and the English readings were different. Making the new siddur userfriendly would require trial and error. Flagging and copying pages were to no avail. An ingenious solution finally worked – we tore open the bindings of the transliterated versions and put the relevant pages in a notebook. The specific sentences to be read aloud were then highlighted. With the resulting notebooks, users could flip from page to page without consulting a table of contents.
After four years, the Jewish Learning Committee, in cooperation with the Minyan and the Ritual Committee, is delighted to present… Egalitarian Siddur 2.0! The BCC Shabbat Morning Minyan meets on the third Saturday of each month at 10:00 am. We invite you come, try our transliterated siddur, and enjoy our warm and intimate Shabbat service.