Written in the nineteenth century, rediscovered in the twenty-first, timeless in its wisdom and beauty, Hours of Devotion by Fanny Neuda, (the daughter of a Moravian rabbi), was the first full-length book of Jewish prayers written by a woman for women. In her moving introduction to this volume--the first edition of Neuda’s prayer book to appear in English for more than a century--editor Dinah Berland describes her serendipitous discovery of Hours of Devotion in a Los Angeles used bookstore. She had been estranged from her son for eleven years, and the prayers she found in the book provided immediate comfort, giving her the feeling that someone understood both her pain and her hope. Eventually, these prayers would also lead her back to Jewish study and toward a deeper practice of her Judaism.
Originally published in German, Fanny Neuda’s popular prayer book was reprinted more than two dozen times in German and appeared in Yiddish and English editions between 1855 and 1918. Working with a translator, Berland has carefully brought the prayers into modern English and set them into verse to fully realize their poetry. Many of these eighty-eight prayers, as well as Neuda’s own preface and afterword, appear here in English for the first time, opening a window to a Jewish woman’s life in Central Europe during the Enlightenment. Reading “A Daughter’s Prayer for Her Parents,” “On the Approach of Childbirth,” “For a Mother Whose Child Is Abroad,” and the other prayers for both daily and momentous occasions, one cannot help but feel connected to the women who’ve come before.
For Berland, Hours of Devotion served as a guide and a testament to the mystery and power of prayer. Fanny Neuda’s remarkable spirit and faith in God, displayed throughout these heartfelt prayers, now offer the same hope of guidance to others.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Hours of Devotion|
|Release Date: 11-26-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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Hours of Devotion
The name of ADONAI is a tower of strength
To which the righteous person runs
And is strengthened.
I greet you, O holy, silent dwelling place,
Splendid temple of God.
Blessed is this hallowed space!
Here is where the Holy One dwells and reigns.
Here I behold the glory of the Almighty,
Whose majesty hovers around me,
And I am embraced by the holiness of God.
Worn down by the cares of life,
I cross the threshold of this sanctuary, and look!
The spirit of peace takes hold of my heart.
Sorrow vanishes, and my soul’s anxiety
Gives way to deep and tearful prayer.
Truly, this is the house of God,
And here is the gate that leads to heaven.
Merciful God, you are close to me everywhere,
But closest to me in this place.
Here I feel safe and secure in your protecting hand,
O Protector of All.
Here I feel shielded from life’s uncertainties.
Here my soul willingly offers up its sacrifices,
And I gladly place my life at your disposal.
Here I disclose to you my innermost secrets and desires.
Outside in the bustle and turmoil of the world,
Life with its burdens and obstacles rises like a wall
Between my heart and you, O God.
But as I enter these silent, still, and sacred halls
That wall disappears, and my soul rises toward you
Full of joy and enthusiasm, inspiring awe and devotion.
I feel transformed,
For virtue and faith shine brightly here
In their sublime and heavenly forms,
In their eternal, constant majesty.
My very thoughts and emotions are sanctified.
My soul becomes radiant, and my heart opens wide,