Why We Pray What We Pray: The Remarkable History of Jewish Prayer

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whyweprayWhy We Pray What We Pray: The Remarkable History of Jewish Prayer
By Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel
Urim Publications
Israel, 2010
313 pages

Academic literature on Jewish prayer is highly technical, as is most academic writing. Rabbi Barry Freundel uses his experience as a pulpit rabbi when presenting his own academic explorations of the source and meaning of Jewish prayer in a form appropriate for a synagogue class. His methodologies are scholarly but his language and style are popular. The resulting book is a deep yet readable study of common elements of Jewish prayer, their initial forms and purposes and their development over time into our prayers of today. Rabbi Freundel selects six topics to explore—Shema, Nishmat, Birkat HaChodesh, Anim Zemirot, Aleinu and Kaddish. His studies are sufficiently complex to have been dizzying journeys but are rendered unintimidating by this experienced teacher’s touch.

Rabbi Gil Student writes frequently on Jewish issues and blogs at TorahMusings.com.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Summer 2011.

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