I have been using the published, hardcover with transliterations, edition of Mishkan T’filah – A Reform Siddur for a few months now, and as I saw that many people read my previous blog entry about it, and that it is the fourth link on Google, I should follow up with some more comments.
I think it’s much better than Gates of Prayer, no question. It allows the reader to pray in a more traditional style, to understand the layout of a service, and offers a wide variety of prayers for the home. I like most of the editorial changes such as no more italics, prayers aren’t broken up, and the translations strive to be more accurate than in the past.
I think that a move towards a more traditional style is so important because the siddur is not just a book with words to recite, but a tool to help people in their dialogue with God and themselves. A tool that challenges, such as Mishkan T’filah, goes along way towards educating and strengthening that dialogue. Even if someone knows nothing about prayer, one can follow along a basic service (which has a very defined rubric) and learn how a traditional siddur is constructed. While there are many prayers that are changed or left out (due to ideologies of Reform prayer), Mishkan T’filah does much more to empower a Jew than does Gates of Prayer.
A look at Shabbat Morning Service number Two reveals a plethora of annotations intended to teach someone about the nuances of a Jewish siddur and the changes made by the Reform Movement in America.
The siddur is not perfect, but the only “perfect siddur”, containing all of the prayers necessary to form the strong bond between man and the spiritual comes from the heart. A siddur is only one tool to help a long the way.
For ordering and to learn more about the new Reform siddur, visit the URJ Mishkan T’filah Webiste