Siddur Sim Shalom

Siddur Sim Shalom refers to any siddur in a family of siddurim published by the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. How do they differ from Orthodox siddurim?

Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays

Changes and innovations in “Siddur Sim Shalom” (1985) and in “Siddur Sim
Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals” (1997)

Birkhot HaShakhar – Morning Blessings: Three of the early morning berakhot were modified to praise God for having created each individual in God’s image, a free person and a Jew, rather than the conventional version which express gratitude for not having been created a woman, a slave or a non-Jew.

Birchot Hashachar morning blessings

Conventionally Birkhot HaShakhar contains a number of passages describing sacrifices in ancient times which can only be recalled, but not carried out. This section on sacrifices is much shorter in Conservative siddurim; In their place is the Talmudic teaching that deeds of loving-kindness now atone for sin; they draw upon rabbinic tradition to emphasize teachings about atonement and necessary behavior. [Harlow]

Texts that have been added to this part of the service include Leviticus 19:2, 14-18, Avot de Rabbi Nathan, 11a and Tractate Sukkah 49b.

An innovation in Conservative prayer books is a liturgical response to the creation of the modern State of Israel. It was felt that this should be made in a manner which is integral to the fabric of the service; Such a liturgical model already existed: Al HaNissim, which is added to the service on Purim on Chanukah. Thus a new, third Al HaNissim was composed, adapting the language and style of the standard Hebrew text to produce a text that is used on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. A Torah and Haftarah reading for this day is also indicated.

Recalling Sacrifices in the Musaf Amidah: “Siddur Sim Shalom” presents multiple alternatives for the Shabbat Musaf; the Orthodox version which explicitly prays for the resumption of animal sacrifice in a rebuilt Temple is not one of them.  Siddur Sim Shalom changes the phrase na’ase ve’nakriv (we will present and sacrifice) to asu ve’hikrivu (they presented and sacrificed). The petition to accept the “fire offerings of Israel” is removed from the Amidah.

“Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals” does not present multiple
services; it presents one musaf for Shabbat, for festivals, and for Rosh
Hodesh. Within each service, the reader is offered a traditional text, as
well as an alternative text which eliminates mention of sacrifices. The
traditional Y’hi Ratzon meditation (“May it be your will, Adonai our God,
and God of our Ancestors, that the Temple be restored in our day…”)
following the Musaf Amidah is restored.

Other changes in Musaf: Following the view of Rav Saadiah Gaon, the Hebrew word ba-olam (in the world) is added to the daily prayer for peace at the end of the Amidah, making explicit the traditional Jewish concern for universal peace.

Tahanun – supplications following the weekday morning Amidah. The earliest
sources about saying Tahanun is from the Tosefta in Berakhot; The Geonim
viewed this section as optional, the contents were flexible as well. In his
Siddur Maimonides also makes it clear that there are various customs and he
is merely citing his own custom. [Golinkin]  Originally this point in the
service was considered appropriate for the personal supplications of each
individual, and it still is. Over the years, however, certain stylized
passages were printed as the fixed text; these contain references to the
physical desolation of Jerusalem and statements of extreme self-abasement.
To reflect present reality, such statements have been deleted, other
passages have adapted or abridged, and brief portions of supplications by
Rav Amram and Rav Saadiah Gaon have been added. These are closer to us in
spirit than many passages of later origin which were canonized by the
printing press. One’s own prayers are appropriate, and traditional.

Egalitarian Hebrew formulations: The language of liturgical formulas in
Siddur Sim Shalom reflects the reality that in many congregations both men
and women participate in the service. Some prayers include references to
both the patriarchs and the matriarchs. Passages designed for use on Simchat
Torah include texts appropriate for formally designating women as well as
men as honorees on that occasion.  The prayer on behalf of the congregation
(recited after the Torah reading on Shabbat) has been emended to reflect the
fact that women as well as men are members of the congregation. The Mi
Sheberakh prayers contain forms for both male and female readers. The
meditations prior to putting on the tallit and tefillin provide masculine
and feminine forms. [Harlow and Rubenstein]

Some Hasidic influence appears in Siddur Sim Shalom. The blessing for the new moon (kiddush levanah) appears at the end of the Sabbath liturgy. Another mystical element is the Raza DeShabbat, the “Vision of Shabbat”, which precedes the Sabbath evening service. Taken from the Zohar, this passage depicts the enthronement of the Shekhinah. [Raza DeShabbat is only in the 1985 edition ]

Several of the alternative meditations which follow the amidot stress joy, and request freedom from atzvit (sorrow) in classic Hasidic fashion. In fact, a number of these passages are based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. Some benedictions for mitzvot are preceded by kavanot (meditations) which were introduced into the liturgy by the Kabbalists. [Rubenstein]


David Golinkin “Siddur Sim Shalom – A Halakhic Analysis”_Conservative
Judaism_ Vol.41(1) Fall 1988 p.38-55

Jules Harlow “Introducing Siddur Sim Shalom” _Conservative Judaism_
Vol.37(4) Summer 1984 p.5-17

Isaac Klein “A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice” JTSA, New York, 1992

Jeffrey Rubestein “Siddur Sim Shalom and Developing Conservative Theology”
_Conservative Judaism_ Vol. 41(1) Fall 1988 p.21-37

Jeffrey Rubestein “Ethics and the Liturgy of the Conservative Movement”
_Judaism_ Winter 1991 Vol.40(1) p.95-114



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