Summary: The Open Siddur will allow individuals to create from and add to a community open source database: different translations, additional siddur elements, join multiple individual elements as community plug-ins, trope/no-trope, different fonts, different layouts, the framework of halkhic obligations for personal t'fillah and communal t'fillah. A Completely customizable Siddur relflecting the individuals creativity within t'fillah, love and awareness of the diversity of Jewish traditions, and to use the siddur as a tool of studying Judaism, worldview, history, values, and changing values reflected in t'fillah.
This project is just beginning. To share your thoughts and energy join our listserve at: http://phobos.simpletone.com/mailman/listinfo/open_siddur
Background on T'fillah and the Siddur:
1) T'fillah is a personal and creative expression. Jews pray on their own and are given great flexibility to adjust their service to their own time constraints, intensity, and the nature of their devotion *within Halkhic requirements for a minimal t'fillah*. However, neither minimal requirements, or individual creativity in using the Siddur, is often included in modern Siddurim.
2) T'fillah is a an expression of communal solidarity. Individuals in a service are required to keep pace with the community in a shared service or minyan. Various halkhic rules were written to help the individual know what their obligation is in actually being able to do this with proper ettiquette. These rules sometimes find their way in an appendix in the back of Siddurs, With the Open Siddur, a siddur can be generated which guides the individual more closely with their particular circumstance. Additionally, individuals are required to give public expressions in T'fillah in conformity with the tradition of the shul, sefardi, ashkenazi, yemeni, mizrahi, etc.
3) T'fillah is a popular discipline. The three services are the continuation of the Temple services of Leviim and Cohanim, in a post temple world, now including all Jews. But their remains a tension between the creativity and energy an individual can exert in their own t'fillah, and the constant obligation to join the service thrice daily. This project is inspired by this tension, and seeks to ameliorate it by granting more power to the individual in formulating their prayer by themselves, for intimate use either within a minyan or alone. We are always alone and we are never alone.
3) T'fillah is a reflection of the diversity in the world of Jewish people. Besides the unique and differing creativities of individuals in their personal expression, their is a great diversity of traditions reflected in the elements of Siddurim around the world.
4) The Siddur is an accretion of elements added. Their remains a CORE siddur which is constant among the various traditions. This core is a creation which evolved over time, and each element has social and historical context. The Open Siddur is an example of a useful and living religious tool which remains aware of the historical evolution of its source materials.
5) There is an interest in communities who desire not to follow
traditional halkhic requirements in the structure of the siddur
and of the individual or communal service. By adding different
elemnts for the siddur project, new and exciting Siddurs can be
Create a database of Siddur
-- different Ashkenazi, Sefardi, etc. elements. Common elements.
-- historical elements
-- trope, vowel elements. (Gematria elements, sure!)
-- language translation
-- Shared purpose among diversity of Jewish traditions and halkhic conformities
-- Reclamation of Individual ownership over t'fillah while maintaining solidarity with and awareness of the whole Jewish community and their diversity.
-- Future Possibilities may extend this project to other faiths! Perhaps a CORE "siddur" can be discovered among the worlds diverse prayer systems?
MySQL database, PERL, XML/XSL, Linux.
CVS, version control software for managing database inclusions and changes.
Forums/Listserves for community and scholarly activity open source/ copyleft
The project may be marginalized by Jews who object to "picking and choosing." Conformist trends in religion tend to pull the creative spiritual power away from the individual and towards "tradition", although it has always been individuals who have evolved tradition. It is important to emphasize that while it is possible to create heretical Siddurs with the Open Siddur project, there is also here a unique and powerful tool for teaching all of Judaism as it has been expressed in our Siddurim, a tool which did not exist before the Internet and hypertext technologies.
Some may object that community money which subsidizes Jewish publishers like Artscroll, will be lost to a "communist" open source project. Jewish publishing has always been an important resource for the community. There will still be a need to create paper Siddurs, since many Jews would object to praying with the Open Siddur on their Palm Pilot on Shabbes or otherwise. Jewish publishing houses should be encouraged to join the open siddur project to print the most poular Siddurs chosen by the community of Open Siddur users. Additionally, the Open Siddur will be invaluable to Jews living in distant parts of the world, but who may have an Internet connection, to directly download Siddurs for their community.