Marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Monday in Israel and the world, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, Rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin, has published a new prayerbook (siddur) with German translation.
The prayerbook, whose production spanned four years, features close to 1,400 pages of clear print and attractive design. According to Teichtal, this is the first time in over a century that a one-volume complete Orthodox prayerbook has been printed in Germany that encompasses all daily and holiday prayers with contemporary German translation, along with instructions and explanations regarding the prayers.
"This prayerbook has all the prayers that a person needs for the entire year, including the holidays, except from Rosh HaShana and Yom Kipur," said Rabbi Teichtal.
While in the process of compiling the prayerbook, Rabbi Teichtal founded a Jewish publishing house in Berlin which he named Juedisches. The prayerbook is its first publication.
“Publishing this prayerbook is also our way of announcing the opening of a new Jewish publishing house in Germany,” said Rabbi Teichtal. The next stage is for Juedisches to print other foundational Jewish works. Presently, it is working to publish a Book of Psalms with German translation, and to date, approximately one-third of the job is already complete. It was published in conjunction and with the permission of Kehot, an American publishing house.
Rabbi Teichtal noted that “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 ‘El male rachamim’ (God Full of Mercy—ed) 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 prayerbook.
“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.”
Half of the new prayerbook are in Hebrew and the other half is in German. Aside from the actual prayers, translation, and elucidation, the prayerbook 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 prayerbook 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 prayerbook will be available for purchase in German Jewish communities, on the Swiss Jewish website Books & Bagels, and on Amazon.
Siddur Tehillat Hashem was compiled in the Sephardic tradition, as customary among Jewish communities that identify with the Chassidic movement. This version of prayer is based on the prayerbook of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, (Ha'ARI), considered to have been one of the great Torah scholars and kabbalists in seventeenth century Safed. There are several versions of Sephardic prayers, and the new Tehillat Hashem follows the version as relayed by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who wrote the Tanya.