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Siddur Shabbat B'Yachad: A Siddur for Young Children

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Siddur Shabbat B'Yachad: A Siddur for Young Children

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Siddur Shabbat B'Yachad
A Siddur for Young Children
Edited by Iris Greenbaum and Judith Radousky
Illustrated by Lee Bearson
EKS Publishing Co., 2009
ISBN: 978-0-939144-36-5

OR, Order directly from: EKS Publishing Company

Reviewed by Boris Segel - November 7, 2011

Taking young children to services can be a hassle - for all involved. At best, the kids are bored out of their minds, or at worst, they are disruptive. The alternative is to simply not go to services, or to go and leave your kids in childcare. Or, in the good old days, my Dad would go while Mom stayed home with us kids. Luckily times are changing, and more and more synagogues are working to become more inclusive to worships of all ages by holding dedicated children's services or adding children's components to traditional adult services. In addition, many parents, Rabbis, and youth leaders have been instrumental in helping to create special children's services that can be attended by the entire family.

One such service was created by a group of parents from Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, California and was designed for children age five and younger. The program they developed is called Shabbat b'Yachad (Shabbat Together). As part of this program they created a Siddur (prayerbook) called Siddur Shabbat B'Yachad that was specially designed to introduce children to the Shabbat morning prayer service. This siddur includes an abbreviated Shacaharit (morning service), Amidah, K'riat haTorah (Torah service), and Concluding Service. The Kiddush prayer, as well as the Blessings before a Meal and the Blessings Before a Snack are also included. Throughout, the entire service is presented in Hebrew (with vowels) along with an English translation of the text, as well as with an English transliteration that allows those unfamiliar with Hebrew to pronounce the Hebrew words. This outstanding siddur is further enhanced by the availability of a Leader's Guide.

The Siddur Shabbat B'Yachad is a phenomenal tool for introducing young children, five and below, to the morning Shabbat service, and to instill in them a love of prayer, Hebrew, and community, all at the same time. This siddur is also illustrated with pictures that are akin to those found in coloring books. The illustrations are basic outlines of very active images, with lots of 'empty' space inside that just cry out for some color. To my taste, these illustrations are the only drawback to this otherwise outstanding siddur. This is because while coloring the illustrations may help to get some children involved in the program, personally I would see it as desecration of a siddur, but that is my personal opinion. From what I learned from the Leader's Guide, the design of the illustrations to be 'coloring book like' was intentional, so that children could personalize their copy of the Siddur. Even with my disagreement over the choice of illustrations, I highly recommend the Siddur Shabbat B'Yachad not only for synagogue use, but also as a teaching tool that can be used in both home and school settings.

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