New NCSY Bencher With Israeli Hebrew Transliteration and Updated Songs

19 Jan 2009

Anyone who attends a simcha or a Jewish event these days – be it a bar or bat mitzvah, wedding, shul function, or Shabbaton – is likely to see what has become the gold standard for benchers: The NCSY Bencher on the table. Now comes a new version of the celebrated bencher, to be known as the “Ivrit” edition, with transliteration in Israeli pronunciation, a revised section of popular songs, and a new cover design.

Few publications, particularly in the Jewish world, can claim to have sold over a million-and-a-half copies as The NCSY Bencher has done. First produced in 1982, the Bencher has guided joyous singing at the Shabbat table, at semachot, and many NCSY Shabbatonim for countless families and individuals. It built on its predecessors by offering modern translations as well as transliterations of Hebrew songs and mealtime prayers, opening them to a broader group of people. Previously revised in 1993, the Bencher is now in its 39th printing. It was edited and translated by David Olivestone, currently National Director of Planning and Communications at the Orthodox Union.

“Many people asked me,” Mr. Olivestone says, “for an edition of the Bencher with transliteration of the Hebrew as it is spoken in Israel, for example saying Shabbat, instead of Shabbos. At the same time, we took the opportunity to update the songs to make them more in line with what is sung at NCSY events today.”

The Bencher still includes the candle lighting blessings for the Sabbath, Festivals, and the High Holidays. Sabbath prayers include: Shalom Alaychem; Ayshet Chayil; blessing the children; and the Kiddush for Shabbat and festivals evening and mornings. Also included in the Sabbath prayers are zemirot for Friday evening, Shabbat morning, and the third meal of Shabbat; the Bircat HaMazon (blessing after meals); blessings for other occasions; and 78 popular songs, all in a 120-page, pocket-sized volume.

The various editions of The NCSY Bencher, including the new “Ivrit” edition, the “Classic” edition with Ashkenazi transliteration, and the soon-to-be-published Spanish language edition, can be purchased at, or at any local Judaica store.