REVIEWS & COMMENTS
ON NEHALEL beSHABBAT
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Rabbi Prof. Alan Yuter, "In Praise of Praising Together: Review Essay in Praise of Nehalel", featured article in JewishIdeas.org
Haruni’s genius in Nehalel is its invitation for all, in and with the first person collective plural, to praise God together, with no one losing their voice. Without even a suggestion of a divisive polemic, Haruni’s modern Orthodoxy sees sanctity in individual creativity….Michael Haruni has not only compiled a wonderful prayerbook, he has shown what a thinking Jew is able to accomplish; he inspires his readers, among them me, to take God seriously, and he has created a model for modern Orthodox creativity.
Rabbi Daniel Landes, Director, Pardes Institute, Jerusalem, in his Foreword to Nehalel beShabbat:
With Nehalel, a siddur I warmly recommend we pray from, we can rise together to a new level of direct conversation with our Creator.... Jews have acquiesced to living distantly from God and from their true selves. But we now have a siddur that can draw us back into the encounter we seek through prayer.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel, founder and director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (jewishideas.org), and Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York City:
The Nehalel beShabbat siddur prepared by Michael Haruni is in a class all by itself. It is so beautiful, so sensitive, so religiously inspired—it brings us to a new level of prayer experience. It opens our minds, hearts and souls in unique and spiritually nourishing ways.
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, founder and director of the David Cardozo Academy, Jerusalem (cardozoacademy.org):
The Nehalel prayer book is an unprecedented work that greatly benefits anyone attempting seriously to pray. Through its beautiful photos and words of introduction, it brings us to dwell on the edge of mystery. It makes us aware that we risk losing our souls, and that we may be risking our stake in God, if we do not wake up. By its words and colors, the prayer book itself becomes a request that God involves Himself in our lives.
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, director of ATID (Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions), Jerusalem (atid.org)
The Nehalel beShabbat Siddur is a powerful "visual midrash" on the text of the prayers we all too often are challenged to engage with in a deep, spiritual, mental and emotional way. The synthesis of image and word, enhanced by an unusually original typographic presentation of the prayer-text itself and a new and lyrical translation, acts as an incredibly useful trigger to awaken us to the power of our tefillot.
Rabbi Ari N. Enkin in Hirhurim/TorahMusings:
I was immediately taken aback by the beauty and structure of the new “Nehalel beShabbat” siddur. This nusach Ashkenaz siddur, containing all the relevant prayers for Shabbat, is extremely unique and represents a fresh new dimension in the publication of siddurim. Similar to the “Nevarech” bencher, the Nehalel siddur is packed with extremely powerful and stunning full-color glossy photographs…. The “Nehalel” Siddur certainly offers readers a colorful and alternative prayer experience. The typeset is exceptionally crisp, clear, and well-spaced making for a very pleasurable read. The English translation is an impressive merge of modern and ecclesiastical English…. Women are well represented with their own zimun, a misheberach and baruch shepetarani for bat mitzva girls, and more.
Dr. Rachel Levmore, in The JOFA Journal,
Fall 2013 (Vol. 11, issue 2), p. 38
One cannot fathom the effect of this siddur until one actually prays with it. At first glance, the main innovation is immediately recognizable – stunningly beautiful photographs accompanying each prayer on almost every page. The deep relevance of these photos will grip even the skeptic who has years-long familiarity with the Shabbat prayers. Each photograph serves as a commentary to a single emphasized line on the page, thus sharply focusing the reader’s thoughts on the intent of the words. Moreover, the siddur, in its entirety, has a “natural” feeling to it, in more ways than one. First, it engenders a sense of reveling in God’s world and our place it. Secondly, there is room for all in this world. The photographs naturally include girls and boys (for “and light up our eyes with Your Torah”), men and women (in a beit midrash for “we shall discuss your decrees”), and scenes of natural wonders in Israel and in the universe… The photographs in this volume are simply inspirational and are filled with reverence... [but] are not the only way that Michael Haruni brings the ancient prayers into the mindset of the present-day Jew. His English translation is contemporary and succinct, serving in itself as an elegant commentary...
Rabbi Shlomo Skinner in his Thinking Torah blog:
A quick glance through the siddur told me that this is something special…. This is a siddur. Daven from it. But it’s more than a siddur. Use it to inspire you. Use it to learn some of the meanings that rest beneath the surface of our teffilah. ...you owe it to yourself to check out the siddur. It could change your davening experience.
See also this very interesting follow up piece by Rabbi Skinner:
[Rabbi Skinner suggests a fascinating analysis of the three different recitations during Shabbat of Psalm 92, Mizmor Shir Leyom HaShabbat and of how they are represented in this siddur, and also tells us:]
I’ve been using the new Siddur Nehalel BeShabbat for a number of weeks now and really enjoying it.... I’ve noticed something very interesting. My concentration and enjoyment of Kabbalat Shabbat is much greater using this siddur.... Don’t just sit there! Go buy the Siddur Nehalel beShabbat
Rabbi Dr. Zvi Grumet in the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education, Bar-Ilan University, "Bookjed":
The text and the photos are woven seamlessly...and the effect is truly dramatic…. This is a serious tome designed to assist regular shul-goers in enhancing their tefillah. It introduces an entirely new English translation designed to convey not just the meaning of the text but its feel as well; people who want to pray from the English will not feel like they are reciting from something foreign, but, as Michael Haruni (who is the man behind this volume) writes in his introduction, “ a sense of speaking to God in a more distinctly Jewish voice.” The siddur is also meticulous in its typography…. The new genre of siddur opens possibilities both for tefillah and for tefillah education….
Marc Rosenberg in the Lookstein Center's "DavenSpot":
There is a wonderful new siddur out called Nehalel, published by Nevarech and Urim Publishers, devised by Michael Haruni…. A great trigger for teachers and parents on how to use the liturgy for everyday prayers and increase kavannah…. Michael Haruni's siddur is a bold step to refresh our relationship to the text [of the siddur]. His "cautionary" introduction, addressing his motivation for creating this siddur, offers educators a fascinating and honest confrontation with the limits of photographs and images to conceptualize prayer. It is a must read and a great springboard for students to begin to see their own prayer as less fixed and rote.
Sandee Brawarsky in the "Jewish Week" (New York), September 3, 2013
The book has joyousness about it. To use it to pray is to see the liturgy anew...Haruni, who devised the book’s format, prepared a sensitive new English translation...I’ve sometimes wondered how people can pray in a shul without windows, and this siddur, looking out to the world, makes that possible.
Abigail Leichman, in "Jerusalem Post" Weekend Magazine (pages 40-41), February 22, 2013, featuring interview with Michael Haruni. Only partly viewable at
But view a PDF of the print version:
Joanne Palmer, cover story in the "Jewish Standard" (New Jersey), July 26, 2013, featuring interview with Michael Haruni:
From Joanne Palmer’s introduction: ...The photos have been chosen and matched with text in ways that are smart, insightful, deeply moving, and at times profound...surprising in their beauty…wrenching.
Chana Jenny Weisberg in the Facebook page for her popular blog, JewishMoms.com:
"Wow, look at this, isn't this AMAZING?" This sentence was repeated over and over in the Weisberg home this past Shabbat as my daughters and I oohed and aahed over this unprecedented and stunning new siddur — with inspiring photos interspersed throughout the words of prayer in order to add deeper meaning and understanding to our prayers. An amazing present, I think, for yourself or for a simcha.
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks interviews Michael Haruni about Nehalel beShabbat in a WebYeshiva.org podcast:
Hadassah Magazine, April 2013, Cut & Post:
Nehalel beShabbat (www.nehalel.com; Israel Observer Publications), a new illustrated Shabbat prayerbook, incorporates stunning photographs that focus on the meanings of the liturgy....
Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel in his blog:
Illustrating how the natural order participates in song is perhaps one of the most important features of this book…. Scenic pictures of nature and Jewish life help create the mood and context for prayer as a living experience…. The Nehalel Siddur’s layout design is unusual and stunning. The Hebrew font is crisp looking; it has all the correct grammatical nuances one would expect to see in a siddur, e.g., correct accent marks over the Hebrew words; sheva na, kamatz katan…. I was hoping to find a commentary—but I did not. Surprisingly, what I found instead was something more profound—an original and spiritual translation of the Siddur. For the most part, the renderings are thought-provoking—especially when combined with the imagery… [This] siddur is certainly one that will add a fresh new way of experiencing Jewish prayer–especially on Shabbat.
Rabbi Eliyahu Fink in his blog, FinkOrSwim
I have never used such a beautiful prayer book. The pages are laid out very well. The typography is excellent and a pleasure to read, no italics thankfully. We are given basic instructions for the service throughout and I found them to be accurate and useful…. What sets apart Nehalel BeShabbat is the photos…. Praying with Nehalel BeShabbat is an interesting journey…. The ideals expressed in the photos are very Zionist, very religious… Religious Zionism is seen as the ideal in this siddur.
Philadelphia Jewish Voice, February 24, 2013:
Reading Psalm 29, I see a picture of a giant sand dune in Zambia and wonder at the varied terrain in the desert with sand shaped as if by the fingers of God.... The Siddur is not only beautiful to behold but easy to use. The Hebrew font used in Nehalel is graceful and readable.... I can't wait for the expected future volumes — Nehalel beChol for weekdays and Nehalel beRegalim for festivals....
And see Sue Epstein, in Gush Etzion's Voices Magazine, March 21, 2013.
We all have our siddurim, but Nehalel beShabbat is the new siddur on the block and you’re going to want it when you see it...
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