The siddur—or Jewish prayerbook—is central to Judaism and Jewish life. But what do the defining prayers, woven together in a tapestry of tradition, truly mean? Why do we say them? In this seminar course, we will explore how the Jewish liturgy invites us to grapple with the most significant questions of Jewish philosophy and theology. When creating the text of the siddur, the rabbinic sages employed language that was simple yet profound, attempting to educate us in the fundamental tenets of Jewish faith. Our prayers touch upon issues including the limits of human life, the meaning of being a “chosen people,” and the nature of good and evil. Through meaningful discussions and thoughtful probing of the text, we will seek to develop a greater awareness of the beauty and wisdom that characterize Jewish prayer.
Rabbi Ilan Schimmel
Rabbi Ilan Schimmel has been teaching at the Ramaz Upper School for nine years and is currently the chair of Jewish Law and thought. He also serves as an adjunct professor of Jewish thought at the Stern College for Women, where he teaches courses focusing on the religious thought of Maimonides and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Rabbi Schimmel lives in West Hempstead and is married with four children.
Meet the Instructor
Tikvah aims to make all of our courses available to as many qualified students as possible. In the event that Tikvah needs to add additional sections, this course may be taught by a different faculty member with a similarly high level of expertise.