Liturgy has conventionally been understood as the words that Jews recite in public worship. While written words are almost all that remains from earlier times, the study of liturgy today understands that the ways that these words are performed shapes their meanings profoundly. To the extent possible, then, the study of liturgical words must be combined with the study of all elements of their settings: of the gestures, postures, and intonations (musical or otherwise) accompanying them; of the physical setting where they are recited, usually the synagogue, and its ornamentation; of ritual objects accompanying them; and of the matrix of halakhah, custom, and theology that shapes their composition and recitation. Thus, liturgy in the Jerusalem Temple was primarily nonverbal, but filled with the ritual actions of sacrifice. Liturgy in synagogues has always been dominated by words, but not exclusively so. Liturgy in two synagogues might include very similar texts but look and sound entirely different, or express two very different sorts of spirituality. In addition, the synagogue is not the only locus of rabbinic liturgy; a prayer quorum can gather anywhere. Moreover, the individual, with or without the quorum, remains obligated to pray. Rituals based in the home, around meals, or formulated over a cup of wine (as in circumcision and marriage) are also integral elements of Jewish liturgy. (For studies that pursue some of these directions, see Ehrlich; Langer, To Worship…; Langer and Fine.)
While the Jerusalem Temples stood, formal public worship of God occurred there, through the sacrifices and their accompanying rituals. Individuals also offered occasional *prayer, often freely composed as spontaneous reactions to personal events or experiences. The Hebrew Bible records the short prayers of Moses (Num. 12:13), Jethro (Ex. 18:10), and Hannah (i Sam. 1:11), and the extended prayer of Solomon at the inauguration of the First Temple (i Kings 8:15ff., 23ff.). The only formal prayers in the Bible are the confessions to be recited when bringing the first fruits (Viddui Bikkurim) and the tithe (Viddui Ma'aser; Deut. 26:5–15), and that of the high priest which had no prescribed formula (Lev. 16:21). Pious individuals may have prayed thrice daily (Dan. 6:11; cf. also Ps. 55:18), and some of the psalms may have served as texts for the levitical service twice a day in the First and Second Temples (i Chron. 23:30). There is no evidence, however, for communal prayer in the Temple. The Mishnah records a short liturgy for the priests on duty which comprised a benediction, the recitation of the *Shema and the *Decalogue, three additional benedictions, and the *priestly blessing (Tam. 5:1). The laymen present for the sacrifices participated in the ritual by prostrating themselves (Tam. 7:3; cf. Ber. 11b) and at appropriate pauses, probably chanting such responses as "O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good" (Ps. 136:1). This ceremony might have been one of the sources out of which rabbinic liturgy later developed.
The synagogue, the Greco-Roman association in its Judean form, the frequent fasts prescribed in times of drought for which a special liturgy was recorded in the Mishnah (Ta'an. 2:1–5; see *Fasting and Fast Days), and the ma'amadot institution (Ta'an. 2:7; 4:1–4) were elements of the world from which rabbinic liturgy emerged. The synagogue developed as a place for the regular ritual reading and exposition of Torah. Judean civic associations, perhaps known as havurot, provided a forum for communal meals, ritual, and study. The ma'amad consisted of representatives of the people, some of whom were present at the sacrifices and the rest assembled at home, both conducting prayers four times a day – *Shaharit, *Musaf, *Minḥah, and *Ne'ilat She'arim (see *Ne'ilah,*Mishmarot, and *Ma'amadot). The hours later fixed for the Shaḥarit, Minḥah, and *Arvit prayers were in accordance with the times (of prayer of the members of the ma'amadot and thus) of the sacrifices as well as in accordance with the practices of pious individuals who fixed their prayer schedule according to the position of the sun (tj, Ber. 4:1, 7b; Ber. 26b). The sectarian community at Qumran similarly gathered twice daily for formal prayers as well as communal meals. All these prayer gatherings correspond in timing to Temple sacrifices.
Tannaitic texts record the basic outlines of rabbinic liturgy. Although amoraim attribute the composition of many of these prayers to the men of the *Great Synagogue (Ber. 33a), contemporary scholars debate how much, if any, of rabbinic liturgy predates the destruction of the Second Temple. The Mishnah also knows the obligation derived from the Pentateuch, to recite the *Shema twice daily with its benedictions (three in the morning and four in the evening); the daily *Amidah, known as Tefillah, comprising 18 benedictions (Ber. 4:3) on weekdays (but shortened on other days) and recited three times daily (four times on holidays); and the reading of *Torah on Sabbaths, Mondays, and Thursdays. Rabbinic meal rituals, with blessings before eating and an extended *Grace after Meals following, complete with invocations that reflect an association-like setting, also appear in the Mishnah (Ber. ch. 6–7).
The concept of *benedictions, i.e., berakhot, as the fundamental building block of prayer is already evident in Qumran literature and is presupposed by the rabbis, but with many variants. The amoraim demanded a single statutory formulation, Barukh Attah Adonai ("Blessed are You, Eternal"). In addition, the rabbis incorporated many Temple rituals, like the *priestly benediction, *shofar, *lulav, and *hallel into appropriate points in their liturgies. (See the individual entries on all these prayers for their descriptions and histories.)
No rabbinic prayers were written down until much later. Contemporary scholars debate to what extent the rabbinic liturgical system achieved its form during the Second Temple period or under Rabban *Gamaliel in response to the destruction of the Temple. It is also unclear to what extent prayer texts were fixed or flexible within these accepted structures and how broadly rabbinic prayers were known among the Jews of the Land of Israel and even more so in the Diaspora. It is only around the fourth century that synagogue architecture in Israel begins regularly to reflect the physical orientation of rabbinic worship, especially the Amidah, towards Jerusalem. By that point, rabbinic prayer had become a function of the public synagogue, complete with a *sheli'ah ẓibbur whose public recitation of the prayers enabled those incapable of praying properly on their own to fulfill their obligations to participate by listening and responding *amen. There are ample indications that women attended the synagogue. However, there is no direct evidence for an architecturally separate women's section until the High Middle Ages.
At the very least, an accepted literary norm developed to the effect that the ideal language for prayer would be Hebrew (although other languages were acceptable for many prayers; Sot. 7:1, 32b-33a; Ber. 13a, etc.), and that this Hebrew would allude to but not duplicate biblical language. By the end of the talmudic period, general consensus existed as to the basic formulation of most prayers, though significant regional variations remained. Whether these variations arose as devolution from an original fixed composition or from gradual evolution towards this consensus is unclear. No manuscripts of Hebrew prayers exist from this period, and the few Greek manuscripts suggest only a vague adherence to rabbinic norms (Van der Horst, Langer, "Did…"). The Talmud preserves a few discussions of disputed prayer texts, and these decisions became normative in later generations as the Talmud itself became normative. However, the lack of early talmudic manuscripts also calls the historicity of many of these texts into question.
Around this core of statutory prayers, other elements seem to have emerged, probably in the amoraic period. These include the recitation of psalms and psalm-like passages, known as *pesukei de-zimra, prior to the prayers themselves, in order to set an appropriate mood (Ber. 5:1), and the recitation of individual prayers after the Amidah. These latter prayers began as private supplications, including personal requests (known as devarim; Tos. to Ber. 3:10, also called teḥinnah or taḥanunim), but were gradually formalized (see *Taḥanun). In contrast to the statutory prayers, both of these elements include extensive recitation of biblical texts as well as new compositions composed of concatenations of complete biblical verses. These elements took radically different forms in the Land of Israel and in Babylonia, as the findings of the Cairo *Genizah attest (Fleischer, Eretz-Israel…), but their direct reliance on biblical language suggests that they had emerged before the *Karaites' insistence on purely biblical prayer became an issue.
Perhaps as early as the tannaitic period, traditions of *piyyut (liturgical poetry) emerged in the Land of Israel as elaborations upon the statutory prayers (some simpler exemplars became part of this liturgy). By at least the late amoraic period, *ḥazzanim produced and performed poetic versions of entire liturgical elements, especially on Sabbaths and holidays, replacing the statutory language with compositions relevant to the day and its Torah reading. This poetry was mostly in Hebrew, continuing the tradition of allusive references to biblical passages, and soon extending its content to include midrashic elements. Piyyut flourished mainly in the Land of Israel; Babylonian rabbis resisted its adoption until well into the geonic period. The universal triumph of the Babylonian rabbinic insistence on precise recitation of the statutory prayers, as well as on an annual cycle of Torah readings, left little room for the rich tradition of poetry from the west which had been written for a *triennial cycle; it remained unknown until the discovery of the Cairo Genizah.
By early geonic times, two different rabbinic rites had already developed: the Palestinian and the Babylonian. We know little about the nature of Jewish prayer in the rest of the Diaspora, except where the correspondence of specific communities with the geonim has been preserved. In all cases, by the end of this period, their prayers largely conformed to Babylonian rabbinic norms. Contemporaneous Babylonian *responsa show great concern with universally establishing correct prayer texts according to their own customs and, concurrently, with the rejection of "deviant" customs which can often be identified as Palestinian or, later, Karaite. (Hoffman, Canonization….)
The old Palestinian rite, which flourished until the 12th century c.e. at least, became known in modern times only after the discovery of the Cairo Genizah. The first Palestinian liturgical texts were published by S. Schechter, in jqr, 10 (1898), 654–9. A bibliography of the numerous subsequent publications may be found in Y. Luger, The Weekday Amidah …; of particular importance is E. Fleischer, Eretz-Israel….
While there are considerable differences between the Palestinian usage and the other known rites, the discovered texts do not always show whether they were intended for private or public prayer. Among the characteristics peculiar to the Palestinian rite are the *triennial cycle of the Torah reading; the ending Ẓur Yisrael ve-Go'alo for the *ge'ullah benediction after the Shema (morning and evening); different texts for several benedictions including the *Birkat ha-Torah; a totally different recension of the 18 (not 19) benedictions of the Amidah in which the (otherwise also known) benedictions Elohei David u-voneh Yerushalayim, she-Otekha be-yir'ah na'avod, ha-tov lekha lehodot, oseh ha-shalom occur; an elaborate and complex ritual preceding the statutory prayers on the Sabbath that combines a version of pesukei de-zimra with a procession with the Torah and a recitation of the Ten Commandments (tefillat ha-shir); a special benediction before the Shema, Asher kiddeshanu be-mitzevotav ve-ẓivvanu al mitzvat keri'at Shema; and the addition of Ya'aleh ve-Yavo to the Musaf Amidah. Scattered elements of the Palestinian rite made their way into the various medieval European rites, especially those associated with the recitation of piyyutim. However, there is no discernable pattern of regular influence that suggests direct and sole dependence.
The old Babylonian rite is mainly known from geonic treatises and from Cairo Genizah fragments; the oldest treatise – which is also the oldest preserved complete prayer book – is the ninth-century Seder R. Amram Gaon of *Amram bar Sheshna (ed. by E.D. Goldschmidt, 1971), comprised of the texts of the prayers together with respective halakhic prescriptions. Both Amram and his near contemporary *Natronai b. Hilai in his responsum concerning the 100 benedictions (L. Ginzberg, Geonica, 2 (1909), 114ff.) answered queries from Spanish Jews asking how to pray. This suggests the possibility that Jews in Spain were only then beginning to accept rabbinic liturgical requirements. The majority of medieval prayer books follow the organization of the Seder Rav Amram Gaon, including, frequently, its combination of prayer texts with the pertinent halakhic prescriptions. Unfortunately, its many copyists did not preserve Amram's original prayer texts, often substituting their own. Today's prayer books still follow his order of the prayers.
The seder was followed (a century later) by the Siddur Rav of *Saadiah (Gaon) b. Joseph with prescriptions in Arabic (ed. by I. Davidson, S. Assaf, and B.I. Joel (1941)) which, despite some influences of Palestinian usage, is a good example of geonic prayer books. However, Saadiah's organization was more suitable for study than for synagogue use, and it had no impact outside the Arabic-speaking world. Saadiah also includes significantly more piyyutim, including some of his own composition, indicating their increasing acceptance in Babylonia.
All the various medieval rites of Jewish liturgy developed from the Babylonian rite with varying influences from the Palestinian rite as well as what may be some remnants of local customs which are impossible to document. Although it is customary to divide the rites according to strict geographical boundaries, examination of the manuscript evidence suggests that this is useful mostly as a heuristic device, and actual local customs shaded one into the next, much as do linguistic dialects. Layered onto this were various halakhic and mystical concerns about precise language and performance of the prayers (including, especially, music) that further shaped the actual liturgical experience. Jewish mobility, voluntary and involuntary, also contributed to mixings of these rites. The rites evolved internally over time, especially but not exclusively around the edges of the statutory prayers.
Conventionally, scholars have constructed relationships among the rites mainly by the collections of piyyutim they adopted, dividing the rites into two groups: the Palestinian (comprising Italy, the Balkans, and the Franco-German countries) and the Babylonian (comprising the Spanish and Yemenite rites). However, this Eurocentric division ignores most of the rites driven out of existence after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and presumes that all communities preserved their traditions of piyyut as carefully as did Ashkenaz. It also ignores the fact that the statutory prayers of all these rites are fundamentally Babylonian.
Until Iberian Jews began fleeing Spain, beginning in 1391 but especially after 1492, Jews who moved to a new area generally adopted the local custom, thus preserving the local and regional nature of Jewish rites. Mass immigration, however, created communities of Spanish Jews who considered their customs superior to those of the natives. With this, and in accord with kabbalistic teachings that one's prayers would only reach heaven if offered in the words appropriate to one's ancestral lineage, Jewish rites ceased to be regional. Printing of large numbers of identical prayer books also led to a loss of differentiations among local rites and the loss entirely of rites in which printers were not interested. As a result, the modern world is dominated by two rites: the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi (with identifiable subgroups), accompanied by a few surviving regional rites, most notably those of Italy and Yemen. None of these survive solely in their places of origin.
The most significant formative forces on the medieval rites were the continuing integration of Babylonian halakhic norms and the various schools of Jewish mystic thought. Liturgical halakhah continued to develop, as part of the larger processes of halakhic development, during this period. The parameters of correct prayer, as outlined in the Seder Rav Amram Gaon, Halakhot Gedolot, and Massekhet Soferim particularly received authoritative definition in the various medieval codes and related works. A significant number of these works, like the Sefer Hamanhig of *Abraham ben Nathan ha-Yarḥi (ed. Raphael, 1978), also contain valuable descriptions of actual regional practices in the course of their discussions of halakhic questions. The *Ḥasidei Ashkenaz were deeply interested in liturgy and in correctly reciting and understanding liturgical texts. Their traditions and commentaries, such as the Perushei Siddur ha-Tefillah la-Roke'aḥ of *Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (ed. Herschler, 1992), the Siddur Rabbenu Shelomo / Siddur Ḥasidei Ashkenaz (ed. Herschler, 1972), or the piyyut commentary, Arugat ha-Bosem of *Abraham ben Azriel (ed. E.E. Urbach, 1939–63), impacted subsequent understandings of the liturgy. Kabbalists were also interested in and concerned about liturgy, but most texts remain in manuscript. An exception is the 16th-century Sefer Tola'at Ya'akov of Meir ibn Gabbai (Jerusalem, 1967). (For some studies of the impact of Kabbalah on liturgy, see Hallamish.)
Description and identification of the medieval, pre-expulsion rites is still in its infancy. The work was begun by D. Goldschmidt in a series of articles describing individual manuscripts, collected posthumously in his On Jewish Liturgy. Since then, the addition of thousands of liturgical manuscripts to the collection of the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem, the development of scholarly ability to manipulate data by computer, and advances in codicology have made detailed study of the medieval rites in their bewildering variety feasible and a desideratum. S. Reif provides an analytic summary in his Judaism and Hebrew Prayer (1993), Ch. 6, "Authorities, Rites, and Texts in the Middle Ages." In the meantime, the descriptions that follow present the salient features and editions of these rites as they have evolved over the past millennium.
We begin, somewhat arbitrarily, with the Ashkenazi rites. These consist of three main subrites: of Northern France (Zorfat), of the Rhineland (Ashkenaz proper), and of the lands to the east of the Rhine (originally called the Canaanite rite, later the Polish rite). All are well established already in the earliest preserved manuscripts from the 12th and 13th centuries as well as in the literature of a slightly earlier time. The rite of Northern France largely ceased to exist with the persecutions and expulsions of the French Jews during the 14th century, but the other two persist today.
The *Maḥzor Vitry, composed by Rasḥi's student, R. Simhah of Vitry, and presenting his teacher's lore, is one of the earliest exemplars of the Northern French rite. The edition published by S. Hurwitz (1923), based on a late manuscript with many interpolations from the 13th-14th centuries, has now been replaced by the critical edition of Aryeh Goldschmidt (2004). Goldschmidt argues that the Siddur Rashi (ed. S. Buber and J. Freimann (1910–11)) is really a version of this work. The 13th-century Sefer ha-Maḥkim and Siddur Troyes record that the French rite differs from the Ashkenazi rite only in certain additional piyyutim, a kerovah for the second day of Rosh Ha-Shanah, and some ma'arivim. However, manuscript evidence and the arguments of the Ḥasidei Ashkenaz suggest some more subtle differences in precise language, too.
Until the 1290 expulsion, English Jews also followed the ritual of Northern France. A complete siddur with a few piyyutim is contained in Eẓ Ḥayyim (printed in the edition of Sir Israel *Brodie, 1 (1962), 63–138), by R. Jacob Ḥazzan of London. Part of this rite also remained in use in three communities in Piedmont (northern Italy), Asti, Fossano, and Moncalvo (known as אפ״ם, afm), until modern times. These communities had accepted the Ashkenazi rite upon their establishment in Italy, but on the High Holy Days continued to recite the piyyutim of the French maḥzor from handwritten copies. The community of Asti continued to hold High Holiday services in accordance with its ritual until about 1965. The maḥzor of these communities is described by D. Goldschmidt in On Jewish Liturgy, 80–121; and a list of the piyyutim is given by I. Markon, in: Jewish Studies … G.A. Kohut (1935), Heb. pt., 89–101. The whole material of High Holidays piyyutim of the French mahzor found in manuscript is included in the Mahzor la-Yamim ha-Nora'im, ed. D. Goldschmidt, Jerusalem, 1970.
rhineland and canaanite/polish rites
The Rhineland, or pure, Ashkenazi rite, originally used by the German or German-speaking Jews, was the most widely followed and its siddur and maḥzor have been printed since the 16th century. Only fragments of the Palestinian texts (e.g., Ẓur Yisrael or the short Emet ve-Yaẓẓiv in connection with piyyutim) have been retained. The maḥzor contains yoẓerot for the special *Sabbaths and all festivals; kerovot for the Four Parashiyyot, Shabbat ha-Gadol, all the festivals, Purim (in some communities also for Ẓanukkah), and the Ninth of Av; and a large collection of seliḥot and kinot. Most of the piyyutim are by Palestinian or German authors. The rite is now followed in Germany (from the Elbe River westward, where post-Holocaust communities retain authentic rites), Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, northern France, and in a number of communities of Northern Italy.
From the earliest documented exemplars, a slightly different rite was common in communities to the east, known originally as Canaanites (an epithet for "slaves," i.e., the pagan Slavs). This branch eventually comprised the eastern part of Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, the rest of Austria, all of Russia, Romania, and the rest of the Balkan countries, and later included also the Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Denmark, England, America, and Palestine. Differences between the two branches – the Western, called Minhag Rainus ("Rhine usage") in the Middle Ages; and the Eastern, called Minhag Oystraikh or Minhag Peihem ("Austrian or Bohemian usage"), today generally known as Minhag Polin – are hardly noticeable in the regular prayers; the main variances are in some special piyyutim and in the more elaborate opening to the Torah ritual. Different editions of Minhag Ashkenaz (Western) and Minhag Polin (Eastern) were published from the 16th century onward. The *selihot point to local differences. Thirteen different rites have been printed (see the Seder ha-Seliḥot edition of D. Goldschmidt (1965), introd. 7).
A major contribution of the medieval Ashkenazi rites to the greater Jewish world was the development and regularization of memorial liturgies, ranging from the regular recitation of Kaddish during the year following a parent's death, to the annual recitation of Kaddish on the anniversary of a relative's death, to the recitation of *Yizkor four times a year during the pilgrimage festivals and Yom Kippur. Many of these rituals developed in parallel to Christian interest in cults of the dead. They emerged in Ashkenaz in the aftermath of the destruction of Rhineland communities during the First and Second Crusades. Some Ashkenazi communities included a memorial element in most Sabbath services with the recitation of the prayer "Av ha-Raḥamim," while others recited it only on the Sabbath preceding *Shavuot (the anniversary of the First Crusade) and the Sabbath preceding the Ninth of *Av. It is also in this context that Aleinu became part of the daily liturgy and not simply a part of the High Holy Day Musaf services.
Until the 18th century this rite was generally followed by all Ashkenazi Jews, but since the rise of Ḥasidism, the rite of Isaac Luria (Nusaḥ ha-Ari) was accepted in ḥasidic communities. Though retaining some of the Ashkenazi usage (e.g., the tahanunim, the Kedushah for the Shaḥarit of Sabbath, Grace after Meals), Nusaḥ ha-Ari borrows significant elements from the Sephardi rite (see below) and is therefore popularly called Nusaḥ Sefarad. The piyyutim used by the ḥasidic communities are, however, according to the Ashkenazi (Polish) rite. Through the negligence of printers, the texts of this rite were badly emended and never really standardized. The special editions for the *Chabad Ḥasidim (after the revision of R. *Shneur Zalman of Lyady) are explicitly marked Nusaḥ ha-Ari.
Romanian (Romaniot) Rite
The Romanian (Greek) rite was followed by the Jewish communities of the Byzantine Empire. In use in Greece, the Balkans, and in European Turkey, at least until the end of the 16th century (manuscript evidence suggests that the piyyutim, at least, continued to be recited even later in some communities), it was superseded by the Sephardi rite. Four editions of Mahzor Romania appeared in the 16th century, and many more of smaller prayer books (siddurim) of the rite. Distinctive features of the rite are Hodu before Barukh she-Amar; in the *Kaddish, the addition Ve-Yaẓmaḥ purkaneh vi-karev Meshiḥeh u-farek ameh be-raḥmateh; several elaborations of the weekday Amidah; Le-Dor va-Dor for the third benediction of the Amidah (instead of Attah Kadosh); the short Emet ve-Yaẓẓiv on the Sabbath; Keter for the Kedushah in Musaf. Maḥzor Romania contains a large collection of piyyutim for Shaharit*petiḥah, *reshut, Kaddish, *Barekhu, *yoẓer, ofan, zulat, mi-khamokha; Ma'arivim for every festival (including the Day of Atonement); *kerovot for fast days, Purim, the Day of Atonement, Rosh Ha-Shanah (in Mss. also for the other holidays and Hanukkah); and a large collection of *seliḥot and *kinot. Differences in the manuscripts and the printed editions show that the rite was edited in its final form at a comparatively late date. (For a description of this rite see: Zunz, Ritus, 79ff., and D. Goldschmidt, On Jewish Prayer, 122–52. For its piyyut, see L. Weinberger, Jewish Hymnography: A Literary History (1998), ch. 4–6, and his references to his publications of the piyyut texts.)
The ritual of the Jews of Corfu (their maḥzor was never printed) is almost identical with the Romaniot rite. The rite of the Jews of Kaffa (Feodosiya) and Karasubazar (Belogorsk) in the Crimea has, despite many elaborations of the texts, all the distinctions of the Maḥzor Romania. While their siddur was printed twice (last edition Kala, 1735), their maḥzor was never printed. I. Markon (in: Festschrift … A. Harkavy (1908), 449–69) lists 315 piyyutim from their maḥzor.
Roman (Italian) Rite
The Roman (Italian) rite, also called Minhag ha-Lo'azim, is in use today in Rome, in the interior of Italy, in a few communities in Salonika and Constantinople, and also in the Italian synagogue in Jerusalem. Peculiar to this rite are Le'eila Le'eila in the usual Kaddish; Keter in all Kedushot; different wording to the Amidah; different taḥanunim (ve-Hu Raḥum is missing); a special piyyutic version of the Arvit for Friday evening (Asher Killah Ma'asav) and its Amidah (U-me-Ahavatkha); kerovot for the Day of Atonement and all the fast days, but not for Rosh Ha-Shanah and other festivals. A number of piyyutim had already been removed from the maḥzor before the invention of printing. Many manuscripts and editions of this rite continue the model of the Seder Rav Amram Gaon of interspersing prayers with halakhic instructions.
The first edition of this rite was that of Soncino, printed at Casal Maggiore, 1485–86. An introduction to this maḥzor was published by S.D. Luzzatto (1856), entitled Mavo le-Maḥzor Benei Roma (new edition, with supplement by D. Goldschmidt and a bibliography of the printed maḥzor and siddur by J.J.Cohen, Tel Aviv, 1966).
Sephardi (Spanish) Rites
Originally dominant in the Iberian Peninsula, the Sephardi rites spread, after the Jewish expulsion, to North Africa, Italy, the Balkans, and through all the countries of the east as far as India, superseding the fixed prayers of the local rites and often their traditions of piyyut as well. Former *Conversos brought the rite, in a slightly different form, to Holland, some communities in Germany (e.g., Altona, Vienna), England, and eventually North and South America.
In the process of the expulsion, almost all the local rites of the Iberian Peninsula lost their identities. The Catalonian and Aragonese rites were preserved only in Saloniki, where they were printed several times (first editions: Catalonian (Salonika, 1627), Aragonese (Salonika, 1629)) for the Catalonian and Aragonese Jews who settled there (D. Goldschmidt, On Jewish Prayer, 272–88). All surviving rites are versions of the Castilian rite.
The Sephardi rite differs from the Ashkenazi by putting Hodu before Barukh she-Amar; inserting Ve-Yaẓmaḥ Purkaneh in the Kaddish; introducing the Kedushah with Nakdishakh and Keter; different versions of the ninth benediction of the Amidah for summer and winter; minor differences in the general wording of the Amidah; and sometimes the formula Le-Moshe Ẓivvita (instead of Tikkanta) for the Sabbath Musaf. The collection of verses accompanying the movements of Torah from and to the ark are almost completely different. Although early Sephardi rites were rich in piyyutim, they had almost all been deleted or moved to the periphery of the service in Castile by the time of David ben Joseph *Abudarham (see his commentary to the Yom Kippur piyyutim, Tashlum Abudarham, ed. by L. Prins (1900)). From the 16th century, it became common to print this rite according to the kabbalistic traditions of the Ari. From the 18th century, most Sephardi communities removed piyyut entirely (Langer, To Worship God Properly…, 172–82).
north african rites
There is very little evidence preserved for the original rites of the North African communities. Almost all manuscripts and printed editions reflect the rite of the Sephardi émigrés. An important exception is the siddur of Solomon b. Nathan of Sijilmassa (North Africa, 12th century; tr., ed. S. Haggai, 1995). E. Hazan, Hebrew Poetry… provides a comprehensive survey of the poetry characterizing these rites, before and after the arrival of the Sephardi refugees.
The Provençal rite (southern France) is nearly identical with the Sephardi rite, especially that of neighboring Catalonia, and was followed by the communities of Avignon, Carpentras, L'Isle sur la Sorgue, and Cavaillon until the 19th century. The text shows some additions due to the influence of the rite of northern France, e.g., the three Kedushot begin with Nekaddesh, Na'ariẓakh, Keter; in all the Amidot,Shalom Rav is used instead of Sim Shalom. The maḥzor of Avignon was printed in Amsterdam (4 vols., 1765ff.; a detailed description of it was given by Zunz, in Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, ii (1838)–iv (1840)). The maḥzor of Carpentras, which abbreviated almost all the piyyutim, was printed in Amsterdam (1739–62, 4 vols.). The maḥzorim of L'Isle and Cavaillon, preserved only in manuscript, contain numerous piyyutim for festivals and Sabbaths, but only kerovot for the fast days, Rosh Ha-Shanah, the Day of Atonement, and the prayers of dew and rain. These kerovot were recited after the Amidah in accordance with the practice of the North African communities. A siddur with selected piyyutim for these communities was edited by M. Milhaud (Rituel des Prières en Hébreu à l'Usage des Israélites de l'Ancien Comtat, 2 vols., 1855).
Minhag Teiman, the rite of the Jews of Yemen, follows the Seder Tefillah of Maimonides which is based on the siddur of Saadiah Gaon, but shows the influence of Sephardi elements (see L. Goldschmidt, in ymhs, 7 (1958), 188). A small number of piyyutim such as Avodah, hoshanot, and seliḥot are taken from the Sephardi prayer book. The Yemenite liturgy was first printed in Jerusalem (2 vols., 1894), entitled תכלאל, from which a handwritten (mimeographed) edition elaborated with many piyyutim was edited by J.S. Hobareh (1964 (תכלאל קדמונים)).
The Sephardi refugees imposed their rite on all the communities of the east, making the original rites there too difficult to retrieve and study. Among the best documented are the liturgy of the Persian Jews (published by Shlomoh Tal, The Persian Jewish Prayer Book (Heb., 1980)) and the rite of the Jews of Aleppo (Mahzor Aram-Zova, printed in Venice, 1523–27), whose High Holy Days prayers, very similar to those of the Persian prayer book, were also influenced by the Romanian and Roman rites. There are a number of manuscripts extant that apparently hail from this general region, but we have no way of identifying their provenance at this time. All later prayer books conform to the Sephardi rites.
[Ernst Daniel Goldschmidt /
Ruth Langer (2nd ed.)]
the modern period
The economics of printing required mass production of single prayer books to meet the needs of multiple communities, meaning that local preferences for specific piyyutim, variants of individual words or phrases, and all the variety that accompanied a world in which prayer books were produced one at a time, were overridden. In addition, kabbalistic concerns led to many innovative additions and changes to the printed liturgies as well as a belief that only "correct" prayer was efficacious. Particularly in Poland, these changes combined with the prevalence of outright errors in the printed prayer books, inspired prominent rabbis, beginning in the 17th century, to establish the correct texts of the prayers. Important examples range from the 1617 Siddur of R. Shabbetai Sofer of Przemysl (ed. Yitzchok Satz (Baltimore, 1987)) commissioned by the Polish Jewish Council, to the labors of scholars like Wolf *Heidenheim (Sefer Kerovot, 9 vols., 1800–2) and Seligman *Baer (Seder Avodat Yisrael, 1868) in Germany, and Samuel David *Luzzatto (Maḥzor … ke-Minhag Benei Roma, 1855–6) in Italy (Reif, Judaism and Hebrew Prayer, ch. 7–8). With the development of modern academic approaches to Jewish studies, the questions have shifted to those of retrieval of original and earlier forms of prayers and a recognition that "correctness" is not so easily defined. Moreover, the migrations of Jews caused by the Holocaust and the expulsions of Jews from Arab lands has created another leveling of regional rites as liturgical scholars have endeavored to create Israeli prayer books that might be used by all Israelis according to the major rites (like the Siddur and Mahzor Rinat Yisrael, ed. Sh. Tal).
Prayer book manuscripts, because of the labor and expensive materials involved, tended to be as concise as possible, rarely repeating prayers from one service to the next and frequently omitting all instructions on how to perform the liturgies. With the development of printing and more inexpensive book production, and increasing expectations that every worshiper would use a prayer book, the prayer book gradually became a more "user-friendly" text, repeating prayers at appropriate intervals and including instructions, frequently in the vernacular. The contemporary liturgical texts published by *Art Scroll and used widely in Orthodox congregations in the Diaspora represent the extreme expression of this phenomenon, giving instructions for every customary gesture. This represents a flattening of variety not only within the text itself, but also in its actual performance.
Another element that greatly shaped prayer books in the early centuries of printing was the introduction of kabbalistic elements. These included both instructions on how to recite and meditate on the prayers, corrections to existing prayer elements according to the customs of Isaac *Luria, and additional kavvanot (texts expressing the mystical intention of the prayer). Often, additional prayers were added to the printed prayer book intended for private recitation, both on a daily basis and also for specific occasions and personal needs.
In this context, collections of prayers specifically for women (in Yiddish, called *tkhines) begin to appear in Ashkenaz and in Italy (in Hebrew). Some speculate that in Ashkenaz, they originated with the convention of having one woman lead prayers for the women's section, where women often could neither see nor hear the men. Although some of these prayers are clearly written by women, most are unattributed and many may have been written by men. Their language shows influences of Lurianic Kabbalah, suggesting that the printed texts themselves are early modern, but they may well have developed from earlier orally transmitted materials. If similar oral women's traditions existed in other communities, they were never written down. These prayers accompany the dramatic moments of synagogue liturgy, like the blowing of the shofar or the blessing of the New Month, but they also accompany moments in women's lives outside the synagogue, through both the life cycle and the annual cycle. The collections all provide prayers for the three mitzvot specially commanded for women: taking *hallah, going to the *mikveh after menstruation (*niddah), and lighting *candles before the Sabbath and festivals (C. Weissler, Voices of the Matriarchs …). In the 19th and 20th centuries, some of these Yiddish prayers were translated, not only into modern vernaculars but also to accord with modern sensibilities. The best known of these collections was Fanny Neuda's Stunden der Andacht (in English translation, Hours of Devotion). In recent years, many collections have been republished, sometimes in modern Hebrew versions.
19th Century Developments
While synagogue architecture and musical styles were consistently influenced by those of the surrounding cultures, pressures to conform liturgically became more intense and more deliberate as Jews approached emancipation in Western Europe. Acculturated Jews were very conscious of the fact that their liturgical modes were among the elements that marked them as different. If they desired to be considered as citizens of their countries of residence whose religion was Judaism, then the public statement of that Judaism needed to be one of which they could be proud. Reforms of the liturgy began as aesthetic reforms in the quality of musical production and in decorum. Improved decorum did not challenge halakhic norms but did lead to more formal seating patterns for prayers and more regular preaching, increasingly in the vernacular. Musical reforms, in contrast, led to halakhically problematic demands for inclusion in prayer of an *organ and mixed choir.
Reform liturgy had its first formal expression in the prayer book of the *Hamburg Temple, published in 1819. This prayer book, and those that followed it in Western Europe and eventually in the United States, not only provided translations of the prayers into the Western vernacular (itself not a new phenomenon) but considered these translations to be its primary prayer texts. Vernacular prayer itself pushed the reformers to create more radical liturgical changes. The act of translation created a confrontation with the theological statements of the received liturgy and with concepts that, once removed from their poetic Hebrew phraseology, became starkly troublesome when stated in a language that everyone understood well. Certain concepts, especially those driven by Kabbalah, but also prayers for the restoration of sacrifices, did not fit with the rationalist turn of the age and the reformers' sense of modernity; others, like prayers for the restoration of Zion, seemed inappropriate to Jews who considered their true homes to be their countries of residence; yet others were offensive to Jews' gentile neighbors. These concerns, combined with desires to shorten the service as well as leave room for a substantial sermon and enhanced music, led to radical changes in the prayers themselves. Reform prayer books, of which hundreds were produced, increasingly removed or revised theologically difficult passages and shortened the entire liturgy significantly. At its most extreme, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some prayer books retained only superficial similarities to the traditional liturgy, including only a few key sentences of Hebrew prayer and few hints of the service's traditional patterns. Halakhah was simply not a consideration and was often deliberately disregarded as appropriate only to another age. Reform synagogues and their services blended well with the Protestant liturgies of the Jews' neighbors, with vernacular prayers, short Scripture readings (with translation, or only in the vernacular for the *haftarah, which was often declaimed, not chanted), extended sermons, and hymnals filled with vernacular songs designed for organ and choir (and not a cantor). Some of these hymns were adapted from Christian church music. As rabbis became liturgical officiants, like Christian clergy, congregants arrived on time, sat quietly in forward-facing pews, and left elevated by the awesome grandeur of the service. (See J.J. Petuchowski, Prayerbook Reform in Europe: The Liturgy of European Liberal and Reform Judaism (1968) and E.L. Friedland, "Were Our Mouths Filled With Song": Studies in Liberal Jewish Liturgy (1997).)
Such changes elicited objections and responses from the traditional world in Europe, especially in urban areas and in the west. On the one hand, Reform demands for decorum and for greater attention to the liturgy were deemed appropriate. In traditional synagogues, liturgical music was increased and enhanced, although performed by cantors with all-male choirs, and without instrumental music on Sabbaths and holidays. But traditional Jews understood the received prayers as halakhically mandated and immutable. Increasingly, they published prayer books with vernacular translations, intended to edify those less literate in Hebrew but not to serve as performed liturgical texts. As a result, these translations frequently lack literary finesse and are sometimes even incomprehensible. The greatest impact of Reform on the traditional liturgical world was a renewed questioning of the validity and necessity of the Ashkenazi traditions of piyyut. Many communities, over the course of the 19th century, ceased to recite most festival poetry, retaining only the piyyut of the High Holy Days and a few liturgical poems linked to the liturgical announcements of the prayers for rain and dew at Sukkot and Passover.
20th Century Developments
As they achieved a degree of maturity, the various West European and North American non-Orthodox movements sought to define themselves by creating standardized liturgies. How this process worked varied from country to country, depending on the organizational structures of the communities. In North America, liturgies tended to be standardized by each movement across the United States and Canada. In Germany, on the other hand, prayer books were largely produced for specific regional communities. Over the course of the 20th century, although movements never required adherence to their liturgies, these prayer books became elements of the movements' self-definition, reflecting the theology of the movement. Examples of such prayer book series from North America include the Reform movement's Union Prayer Book (published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis), with major editions in 1895, 1921 (revised), 1947 (newly revised), 1975 (the New Union Prayer Book, retitled Gates of Prayer for weekdays, Sabbaths, and holidays, Gates of Repentance (1978) for the High Holy Days), and with numerous versions for specific occasions and revisions. At the beginning of the 21st century, a new prayer book, Mishkan Tefillah, was in production. Publications of prayer books commissioned by the Conservative Movement's United Synagogue began with the 1927 Festival Prayer Book. Most Conservative congregations adopted the Sabbath and festival prayer book edited by Morris *Silverman (1946) and then those edited by Jules Harlow for the Rabbinical Assembly (Mahzor, 1972, Siddur Sim Shalom, 1985, both with subsequent revisions). The Reconstructionist Movement originally used the liturgies of Mordecai *Kaplan (Siddur, 1945, High Holiday Prayer Book, 1948), now replaced by the Kol Haneshamah series, edited by David Teutsch (1991–98 and ongoing). (See Caplan, From Ideology to Liturgy.) Similar series have been published by the Liberal and Reform movements in Great Britain. The Progressive and Masorati movements in Israel have also published their own liturgies in recent decades. All these movements also published corresponding haggadot, rabbi's manuals, and other home and life cycle liturgies, all of which have undergone continuing revisions over the years.
The differences among these series reflect these movements' differing understandings of the appropriate balance between innovation and tradition. While the Conservative prayer books increasingly include new materials, these are generally found on the periphery of the required prayers, and almost all changes to the central prayers have some historical precedent. The Reconstructionist prayers retain tradition except where such prayers contradict the movement's ideology. Hence, concepts like chosenness disappear entirely. The Reform prayer books reflect a growing acceptance of tradition and of Hebrew prayer, but never as a binding category; translations are often highly interpretative and reflect the concerns of the times.
Several elements characterize all these liturgies at the beginning of the 21st century, including those produced for the Orthodox world. Vernacular translations in the English-speaking world have moved from a deliberately archaic Elizabethan English to a contemporary form of the language, thus lessening the formality and "otherness" of the English prayers. Accompanying this is an increasing sensitivity to the layout of the prayer book and its visual dimension. Poetry is often printed as such. Typefaces and arrangements of type are designed to ease reading. Many encourage meditation on the prayers by generous "white space," others by providing rich commentary. Some of these commentaries are produced as study texts, not for active synagogue use. (See Harlow, Or Hadash on Sim Shalom; or Hoffman's series, Minhag Ami, My People's Prayer Book.)
By the 1970s and 1980s, all segments of Judaism had responded liturgically to the Holocaust and the existence of the State of Israel. The latter reality, particularly, transformed Reform traditions of rejection of a Jewish homeland and prayers for return to it. While Reform liturgies still exclude prayers for the restoration of the Temple and its sacrificial worship, references to Israel and its welfare now hold a valued place. Conservative and Reconstructionist liturgies never sidelined Israel, but they address sacrifices only as a past form of worship and do not pray for their restoration. Liturgies published in Israel, and many published elsewhere as well, including many Orthodox prayer books, incorporated the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's "Prayer for the Well-Being of the State of Israel," instead of or in addition to the traditional prayer for the government. Many also incorporate prayers for Israeli soldiers and liturgies for Israeli Independence Day and the anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification. The effect of a revitalized Jewish life in Israel on the non-Orthodox liturgies appears also in their selections of songs, in the increased use of Hebrew (especially in the Reform movement where it had almost disappeared), and in the melodies used for traditional prayers. Liturgical assimilation to the surrounding culture is now less evident, replaced by a conscious striving for authentic Jewish culture. The reintegration of hasidic or hasidic-like music, especially that influenced by Shlomo *Carlebach, speaks to a search for spiritually enriching worship across the spectrum of Jewish practices.
The effect of the Holocaust on Jewish liturgies, beyond its erasure of many local practices throughout Europe, has been less marked. Memorial prayers now regularly include prayers for the victims of Nazism; kinot (poetry of lamentation) on the Holocaust have been added to the Ninth of Av's liturgy. But consensus about an appropriate liturgical religious commemoration, as opposed to communal or secular observance of *Holocaust Remembrance Day, has yet to emerge.
The other major revolution to affect the liturgy in the second half of the 20th century, especially in non-Orthodox circles, was the feminist movement. Beginning in the 1970s, prayer book editors began to remove gendered references to the congregation of worshippers from the vernacular translations. By the 1980s and 1990s, gendered references to God also increasingly disappeared. This included not only a transformation of pronouns, but also the search for new names for God that would not have exclusively masculine referents. Although the process began with the vernacular prayers, this endeavor also extended to Hebrew names for God and to alternative blessing formulae that would better express feminist prayers. See, for example, M. *Falk's The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival (1996), which also includes exclusively women's voices in the nontraditional poetry of the services. While this prayer book has only superficial similarities to a traditional siddur, the ideals it embodies have affected subsequent non-Orthodox liturgical publications. All the American movements and their Israeli and European counterparts now include the matriarchs in the first blessing of the Amidah and other liturgical references to the ancestors (in the 1998 Conservative Sim Shalom, this is an option). Many include references to Miriam as well as Moses in the Ge'ulah benediction's allusions to the parting of the Red Sea. Women are present explicitly in these prayer books in a way unprecedented in Jewish history.
This transformation of the prayers grew from the transformation of women's roles in the synagogue itself. The non-Orthodox movements had abandoned the *mehiẓah and the prohibition on women's participation in choirs, but they had retained the traditional practice of reserving active leadership roles and honors for men. Egalitarianism achieved its first steps with the public celebration of bat mitzvah ceremonies during regular synagogue services. Regina *Jonas was privately ordained in 1935 in Germany, but she never took on liturgical roles. The most public role of modern liberal rabbis is precisely to lead services. Egalitarianism achieved its symbolic victory with the ordination of the first American woman rabbi by the Reform movement, Sally *Priesand, in 1972, followed by the Reconstructionist and Conservative movements and their counterparts in Europe and Israel. Ordination of women as cantors also followed in short order in these movements. Necessary to this process in the halakhically guided Conservative movement was a series of decisions by the Rabbinical Assembly that, at the discretion of individual congregations, women may be called to the Torah (1955), included in the *minyan (1973), and lead public prayer (1974). Full participation by lay women in the community became increasingly common in the wake of these changes at the leadership levels. This includes greater women's participation on synagogue boards and other decision-making bodies.
In some corners of the Orthodox world, there have also been some subtle transformations in women's liturgical expression. Increased women's learning has led to increased female commitments to regular prayer and hence to an increased presence in the synagogue, which historically provided many more seats for men than for women. It is increasingly common for Orthodox women to recite *Kaddish for deceased relatives. Some communities have begun women's tefillah groups, where women gather, in the synagogue or outside it, for regular prayer and often also Torah reading, but without prayers requiring a minyan of men. Some synagogues allow women to give sermons. In the early years of the 21st century, a new phenomenon has developed of synagogues that maintain separate seating but allow women to lead prayers not requiring a minyan and to read from and be called to the Torah.
[Ruth Langer (2nd ed.)]
I. Elbogen, Gottesdienst, passim (Heb. trans. 1972, English trans. 1993); J. Heinemann, Ha-Tefillah bi-Tekufat ha-Tanna'im ve-ha-Amora'im (19622), passim (Eng. trans: Prayer in the Talmud (1977)); J.J. Petuchowski, Prayerbook Reform in Europe (1968). add. bibliography: E. Caplan, From Ideology to Liturgy: Reconstructionist Worship and American Liberal Judaism (2002); N.B. Cardin (ed., tr.), Out of the Depths I Call to You: A Book of Prayers for the Married Jewish Woman (1995); U. Ehrlich, The Nonverbal Language of Prayer: A New Approach to Jewish Liturgy (2004); E. Fleischer, "On the Beginnings of Obligatory Jewish Prayer," in: Tarbiz, 59 (1990), 397–441 (Heb.); idem, Eretz-Israel Prayer and Prayer Rituals as Portrayed in the Geniza Documents (Heb., 1988); E.L. Friedland, "Were Our Mouths Filled With Song": Studies in Liberal Jewish Liturgy (1997); D. Goldschmidt, On Jewish Liturgy: Essays on Prayer and Religious Poetry (1980); M. Hallamish, Kabbalah: In Liturgy, Halakhah and Customs (Heb., 2000); E. Hazan, Hebrew Poetry in North Africa (Heb., 1995); R. Langer and S. Fine (eds.), Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue (2005); R. Langer, "Early Rabbinic Liturgy in Its Palestinian Milieu: Did Non-Rabbis Know the 'Amidah'?" in: D. Harrington, A.J. Avery-Peck, and J. Neusner (eds.), When Judaism and Christianity Began, 2 (2004), 423–39; idem, "Revisiting Early Rabbinic Liturgy: The Recent Contributions of Ezra Fleischer," in: Prooftexts, 19:2 (1999), 179–94 (see also 20:3 (2000)); idem, To Worship God Properly: Tensions Between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism (1998); Y. Luger, The Weekday Amidah in the Cairo Genizah (Heb., 2001); M.A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism (1988); S.C. Reif, Judaism and Hebrew Prayer: New Perspectives on Jewish Liturgical History (1993); P.W. van der Horst, "Neglected Greek Evidence for Early Jewish Liturgical Prayer," in: Journal for the Study of Judaism 29:3 (1998), 278–96; C. Weissler, Voices of the Matriarchs: Listening to the Prayers of Early Modern Jewish Women (1998); N. Wieder, The Formation of Jewish Liturgy in the East and the West, 2 vols. (Heb., 1998).
"Liturgy." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/liturgy
"Liturgy." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/liturgy