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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776
Home  /  Worship, Music and Spirituality  /  iWorship Wisdom Archives  /  Siddur (Prayer Book)  / 
Siddur (Prayer Book)
  • Includes discussions on editions of Gates of Prayer
  • Related Subject(s): Prayer; Choreography; Keva and Kavanah; Mishkan T'filah; Prayer Book Writing Resources and Suggestions; ULPS

  1. In regards to which prayer book do we use, we use the blue Gates of Prayer. In terms of prayer services, throughout the year we use all of the 10 different services. Our congregation clearly prefers the variety that they offer and would not be very accepting of using the same service every week. It takes little effort to decide which of the ten fits best with the theme of the service that week.


  2. We recently switched from the blue Gates of Prayer to the gray. This has been a positive change for us for several reasons:

    1. Transliteration. The presence of transliteration has increased participation in the singing, chanting and reciting of Hebrew passages tremendously. While this obviously does not help anyone's comprehension of the prayer, it allows those who do not read Hebrew to participate and feel comfortable in services - something whose importance is often underestimated. It is also possible that being able to pronounce the Hebrew has made people more open to embarking on study to learn more about the prayers. We have seen a substantial increase in interest in adult Hebrew classes since introducing the book. Though it should be noted that there were other factors (new rabbi, new educator, increased focus on adult education in general) that, along with the book, were probably responsible for this.
    2. Less flipping. While those of us who were intimately familiar with the old GOP barely noticed the 4 to 8 flips that could often occur within a typical Friday night service, the flipping has several subtle effects, virtually all negative (slow flippers, people who didn't hear the page, older adults and children for whom physically managing the page turning was an issue.
    3. Comfortable size. The gray GOP is so much easier for children (and adults) to hold. It is also easier to port to alternate locations (the sukkah, etc.), and takes up much less sanctuary space to store. While such logistics may seem trivial, it makes a big difference to some and has been positive for everyone. As one example, we use the extra sanctuary shelf space to make more copies of the Torah commentary available.
    4. Gender Neutral. This is last on my list (despite seeming primary in production of the book). For the majority of our congregation, this seems to be a neutral item. There are a small number for whom this removed a major barrier, and a smaller number who find the "gender neutered" English less poetic and powerful. There are also a tiny number of Hebrew changes beyond the Avot (one example is: Av Harachaman to Eil Harachaman) which rankle those who don't like changes in words to familiar hymns. Also, there is an edition of Blue GOP which has most of the same changes.

    As for the negatives, (less English variety, fewer hymns, missing seasonal prayers, missing special occasion prayers) we have found that a selective handout or simply reading the occasional passage from Blue GOP from the pulpit has more than compensated for this.

    In hindsight, although we had a laminated transliteration "card" available for use with Blue GOP, this was never effective as the combination of the difficulty of managing another insert combined with the stigma associated with having the card caused it to fall into total disuse. As a result, in considering this transition to gray GOP, we largely underestimated the positive power of having the transliteration right with the prayers in the book.

    ~200 Families

  3. When it comes to "Gates of..." the list goes on forever. You can check the CCAR bookstore [] to see the latest.

    There are: Gates of Prayer, Gates of Prayer for Weekdays and at a House of Mourning (a small book used in a shivah minyan), Gates of Forgiveness (for S?lichot), Gates of Repentance, Gates of Understanding, Gates of Prayer for Weekdays and Shabbat (an interim prayer book with God inclusive language), Gates of Prayer for Assemblies (commissioned by the Union) and Gates of Song (a song book with musical notation). There used to be a Gates of the Home. It was redone and renamed Doorposts of the House. There are two excellent children's prayerbooks: Gates of Prayer for Young People and Gates of Repentance for Young People.

    Don't let the lack of originality in the names turn you off. All these books are very good and serve different purposes. The original Gates of Prayer took prayer out of lofty heights and brought it to people through its use of every day language. Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays was one of the first books that attempted to bring God closer to people through its use of God inclusive language.

    Gates of Song was to bring prayer through congregational music closer to people. I could go on....


  4. Our sisterhood, Congregation Beth Tikvah, Columbus, Ohio, recently published Gates of Good Taste, a Congregational Cookbook. Jessica

  5. has Gates of Understanding. Jim

  6. There is Gates of Freedom which is a Passover Haggadah. There is Gates of Joy which is a young readers? prayer book for holidays and festivals. There is Gates of Heaven which is a machzor for children and parents for High Holidays. Finally, Gates of Understanding has two volumes. They were published by the CCAR, and might be available in bookstores or online (I think I got mine a few years ago at a Jewish Book Store). Francyne

  7. There is a Gates of Song that may contain melodies your congregation sings. You will want to confirm that the tunes you want to learn are in that book. Gates of Understanding is probably available, if still in print, from the CCAR ( Gates of Understanding, Volume 2 is available, but you may be looking for Volume 1. You could check the libraries of synagogues in your area. Chances are a larger congregation will have bought at least one copy. Alan

  8. There is also another paperback, Gates of Understanding II, a companion volume to the High Holy Days Gates of Repentance.

    For service music there is Gates of Song, published by the American Conference of Cantors, the CCAR and the Union, which is from Transcontinental Music Publications. It comes in small paperback size for use in the pews. It also comes in a large loose leaf binder which has piano accompaniment.

    There's also an earlier, 1977 paperback (I don't know if it's out of print) called Songs and Hymns, A Musical Supplement to Gates of Prayer which has additional songs, the words of which are found in the back section of Gates of Prayer. This book has larger print and music than the pew sized Gates of Song, but not core service music.

    A[n]...additional source is The Complete Shireinu from Transcontinental which has 350 fully notated songs with guitar chords but no piano accompaniment.


  9. I was given a copy in 1998 and it has been wonderful. I love singing along and this has really helped. It also has many blessings. I have been trying to learn to chant the haftarah blessings. They are in there. Also the words are there if you have a hard time keeping up with the Hebrew. Gates of Song has the transliteration. When I went to HUC for the Para rabbinic Fellows program in Cincinnati, I bought twelve copies for our congregation. Carol 20 families


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