Jewish Journal


January 1, 2004

A Prayer Book of Many Colors


Lori Justice-Shocket thought that the traditional praying experience was just a bit too black and white. Not the prayers, themselves, per se, but the siddurim (prayer books), with their plain black typeface on white pages and the archaic traditional language, made davening, for her at least, formal, stiff and lacking in the visual and emotional engagement that she thought prayer should have.

So Justice-Shocket, vice president of conceptual development at the Los Angeles-based nail polish company, OPI, decided to take matters into her own  presumably well-manicured hands  and create a prayer book that could visually and intellectually inspire worshippers.

The result is the new Reform Shabbat morning prayer book, "Mikdash M'at" (Behrman House Inc), which means "small sanctuary." It's a prayer book unlike any seen before. The first page -- the morning blessings -- is illuminated in deep reds and pinks, and thereafter the colors don't stop. Sometimes the graphics are superimposed on the text, other times they are located at the side, but every page is replete with some design, either a graphic of an old Israeli coin, item of Judaica or a vibrant and richly hued modernist painting that causes one to look twice at the text it illuminates.

The text, however, is still the same. "Mikdash M'at" is a traditional prayer book with traditional prayers -- they're just presented in a funkier fashion. Justice-Shocket also worked to make the prayers easier to follow. The book is divided into the seven parts of the Shabbat morning davening. Many of the prayers are transliterated, but all are translated into gender-inclusive English. Most are prefaced with a brief explanation of what the prayer is about, to inhibit mindless recitation of the words. For those who get distracted during prayer, this is the kind of book that keeps you looking inside.

To order, visit www.behrmanhouse.com .

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