Another step in becoming observant is learning Jewish prayers. To pray one needs a prayer book. In Hebrew the word is siddur (Hebrew: סידור; plural siddurim), from the word seder which means order because our prayers follow a set order.
So I set out to buy a siddur, went to a Judaica store in Paris and explained, too briefly as you’ll see, what I wanted. The shop-keeper advised a recent prayer book with explanations. The text was in Hebrew on the right and in French on the right. I did not look at any other version and bought this one.
I was quite happy with it for a while until I discovered its shortcomings. The siddur was a Sephardi version and I wanted an Ashkenazi one; all my fault since I should have asked for it specifically. What’s more, whenever a prayer had already been featured in a previous service, it was not repeated with the French text, only in Hebrew and in much smaller type. For someone who was struggling with Hebrew, this was not a detail. Finally it was a bit too big for travelling.
So I went online and typed “siddur” on the French Amazon website and the first that came up was The Complete ArtScroll Siddur. I then ordered the pocket-size thinking it would be easier to carry around. I made sure not to repeat the same mistake and chose the Ashkenazi edition.
Mostly it was fine but the fonts were a bit small this time for every day use. At that point I decided that one really needs two siddurim, at least, one for every day and one for traveling. I consulted my rabbi about the Sim Shalom siddur and he advised the older edition, mainly for the translation.
Some time later I was staying with a friend a little before he left for a ten day visit of Hungary and Poland. He mentioned that he did not have a small Ashkenazi siddur to travel. Since I had my copy with me, I gave it to him.
I now had one big Askenazi siddur but no small one. At that time Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks released a new commented version of the famous Singer’s Prayer Book with a new and more modern commentary. This time there were more sizes and I settled for the standard edition which is bigger than a pocket-size but smaller than the big one.
It turned out to be the perfect choice. It is pleasant to use on a daily basis but also easy to put in a bagpack when traveling.
What siddur(im) do you use and why?