Marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Berlin's Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, published a new prayer book (siddur) with German translation.
The prayer book, whose production spanned four years, features close to 1,400 pages of clear print and attractive design. According to Teichtal, this is the first time in over a century that a one-volume complete Orthodox prayer book encompassing all daily and holiday prayers with contemporary German translation, along with instructions and explanations regarding the prayers, has been printed in Germany.
While in the process of compiling the prayer book, Rabbi Teichtal founded a Jewish publishing house in Berlin which he named "Juedisches." The prayerbook is its first publication.
"This prayer book has all the prayers that a person needs for the entire year, including the holidays, except for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur" Rabbi Teichtal said. "Publishing this prayer book is also our way of announcing the opening of a new Jewish publishing house in Germany."
"For hundreds of years, one of the main ways of commemorating the tribulations in Jewish history was through prayer. This year, I’m certain that reciting the prayer 'Almighty, Filled with Compassion,' (El Malei Rachamim said at memorials and funerals, ed.) in memory of the six million who were murdered in the Holocaust, will evoke great emotion in me, because I will be reciting it along with the contemporary German translation as appears in the new prayer book.
"Aside from the technical advantage of translating the prayers into German, I feel that one way to encourage the younger generation to join us in remembering and honoring the past is by linking memories of the past to a revitalized movement of Jewish spirituality.
"The fact that specifically here, in a place where they attempted to exterminate European Jewry, there is now a vibrant, active Jewish community, as manifest by the publication of one of the most prominent and basic Jewish works in the German language, attests to the spiritual force and power of humanity, and of the Jewish nation in particular. I sincerely hope that this will be a source of inspiration and message of unity to a younger generation."
Juedisches hopes to print other basic Jewish texts, and has already completed nearly one-third of a Book of Psalms with German translation. The Psalms will be published in conjunction with and with the permission of the Kehot American publishing house.
The new "Tehillat Hashem" prayer book comprises some 1,400 pages, half of which are in Hebrew and the other half in German. In addition to the actual prayers, translation, and elucidation, the book also includes Ethics of the Fathers, Torah readings for Mondays, Thursdays and Holidays, and basic Jewish laws of prayer.
It will be available for purchase in German Jewish communities, on the Swiss Jewish website "Books & Bagels," and on Amazon.
In 1895, Frankfurt's Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, who was one of the leading Orthodox Rabbis in nineteenth century Europe, printed one of the first Jewish prayer books to include German translation. In the twentieth century, several other prayer books were printed in German, as well, but few included all the prayers, and others were divided into several volumes.
Rabbi Teichtal is the grandson of Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal, a Hungarian Torah scholar who differed from mainstream Hungarian rabbis by changing his views on Zionism during WWII when he saw what was happening to European Jewry. He wrote that redemption can be brought closer by building up the Holy Land and that the tragedy might have been averted had Jews returned to Israel. His seminal work expounding that position, "Eim Habanim Smeicha," was penned during the Holocaust.. He was killed while being transported to Mauthausen concentration camp from Auschwitz.