Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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the six volume
The Form of Prayers According to the Custom of
the Spanish and Portuguese Jews,
in Hebrew, accompanied by his
translation into English. A second edition in seven volumes ap­
peared in 1857. A decade before Leeser’s translation the only
other American English translation of the Daily Prayerbook in
the Sephardic ritual was published in New York in 1826. The
translation was that of Solomon Henry Jackson, a well known
New York Jewish printer, editor and publisher. The Hebrew
text was revised and corrected by Eleazar Samuel Lazarus,
grandfather of the poetess Emma Lazarus. Somehow this ver­
sion of the prayerbook never found acceptance or great usage
among American Jewry. Leeser also published a one-volume
edition of the Ashkenazic Daily Prayerbook in Hebrew and En­
glish in 1848.
As noted above, one of the main issues affecting and agitating
American Jewry was that of Reform. This had also occurred
in Europe earlier in the century. Many of the issues in conflict
came to the fore as a result of the new versions of the traditional
prayerbook that were prepared. Unlike Europe, however, these
prayerbooks were not the products of congregations, but rather
of individual rabbis, all of whom had been involved in efforts
at reform in Europe but who had to leave the Old World, very
often for political reasons. In many instances, the purpose of
publication was similar to that of the earlier traditional
prayerbook translations that had appeared in the United States.
The Reformers hoped that by modifying their views they could
retain the adherence of Jews in the synagogue and prevent mass
defection to the attractions of the New World.
Since the prayerbooks were partly a product of traditional
rabbinic scholarship, and since they also elicited responses from
the Orthodox community, it is worthwhile to indicate what
changes in the prayerbook were initiated by those who pro­
duced them.
Three of the more important early Reform prayerbooks were
those of Leo Merzbacher, David Einhorn and Isaac M. Wise.
Merzbacher was the rabbi of Congregation Emanuel in New
York. In 1855 he published his
*T70 —
The Order of Prayer
fo r Divine Service
and eliminated from the traditional prayerbook
all references to angels, the Messiah, resurrection of the dead,
and the concept of the Jews as a chosen people. Einhorn’s
Gebetbuch fu r Israelitische Reform