Basic Bookshelf for a Siddur Publishing Office

In the summer of 2004, a publisher of Jewish prayer books asked me to recommend a basic list of reference books for their office library. Off the top of my head, I named some of the titles that I thought were essential for their kind of work. Since then, I've given the topic quite a bit more thought and have come up with this little bibliography. It's still a work in progress and I'd appreciate any suggestions that would improve it.

Recommendations that I'm less sure of are given in square brackets.

Siddurim from the four movements

Siddur commentaries






Some additional thoughts

I've decided to focus on the books that would be of particular interest to a siddur publisher. Thus I've left out the dictionaries, production references, and Pantone books, as well as the style, usage and grammar works that should be in any publishing office -- though I've made an exception for the Chicago Manual, the ne plus ultra of the wise publisher's bookshelf. 

Likewise, I've chosen to leave out basic works on Judaism (there are fine reading lists all over the Web), guides for baalei t'filah, how-to books for congregants, and works on the history of the siddur. A fascinating suggested reading list is maintained on the Web by Dr. Joel M. Hoffman.

If one doesn't have a strong background in the literature of the siddur, Abraham Millgram's Jewish Worship and Barry Holtz's Back to the Sources will help you get up to speed.

For a vast array of Jewish texts in Hebrew, there's the Judaic Classics Deluxe Edition on CD ROM. Available from Davka for only $79. [Also see the Judaic Bookshelf -- Master Library from TES, and the Torah CD-Library from DBS.]

Wikipedia has a useful list of texts available in electronic form (search for "Torah database"). Such online resources can be wonderful for study purposes but the careful publisher will keep in mind the uncertain provenance and risks of copyright infringement that can come with using online resources.

I would have liked to list a good showing of Hebrew typefaces but I simply don't know of one.

Finally, every publisher should have a house style sheet and every manuscript a book style sheet. For an example of a house style sheet, see the one used by the Jewish Quarterly Review. As for book style sheets, see the Chicago Manual (15th edition) 2.54, SBL Handbook 2.1, or Judith Butcher's Copy-editing, p. 21.

Thanks to Dr. Ernest Rubinstein, Rabbi Royi Shaffin, Debbie Smilow, Warren Wolfsohn, and Larry Yudelson. The Book of Jewish Books by Ruth S. Frank and William Wollheim, and the online archives of Mail.Jewish and the Avodah Mailing List were also valuable resources.

You are invited to share your thoughts about this bibliography. Please email Barry Nostradamus Sher.

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