Above is a sneak preview of one (potential) page layout for Siddur Masorati! While we're busily putting together the text and transcribing Sephardi liturgical traditions from around the world, it's helpful to have a reference for how the page might someday look! A few things to point out:
1. Four columns - each page-spread will feature four consistent columns. On the very left is commentary and notes, usually referred to by the English translation. Next to that on the left side is the Hebrew text. On the right, near is the crease, is an English translation, and on the very right-hand side is a full transliteration of the text.
2. Clear and legible Hebrew type - We're using Shofar, a beautiful open-source Hebrew font modeled after Eliyahu Koren's revolutionary type-design. Not only is the text perfectly vocalized, but there's also the helpful addition of a arrow (pointing left) above the syllable of words that have an unusual emphasis pattern. Whereas the default is to emphasize the last syllable of a Hebrew word, sometimes you find the emphasis on other syllables, and that little carrot will help indicate when!
3. Gender-neutral and gender-sensitive English translation - We've done several cool things with this: Firstly, we're committed to not translating Divine Names. The Tetragrammaton will be represented by an all-caps 'HASHEM' and other names will be transliterated (Adonai, El, Eloa'h, etc.) As one of the aims of this project is to maintain a gender-neutral and gender-sensitive English translation, you will also find no capital-H "He"s in here. Yet, rather than use the typical style of God as both subject and object pronoun (Godself instead of 'himself,') we've followed what's now the normative method of referring to a non-gender binary subject/object in English, which is to use the Singular 'They.' Although potentially off-putting to someone unaccustomed to it, 'They' as a singular pronoun is well-attested and well-suited to referring to the Divine. In order to both draw your attention to the grammatical change and to make it easier to label as 'style' and thus atypical - we've used the King-James style full-caps for 'THEY' and the derivatives, 'THEM,' 'THEIR,' 'THEMSELF.'
4. An accessible and complete transliteration - It was important to us to have a full transliteration. If the aim is to make a siddur that is accessible to everyone, regardless of Hebrew literacy or comfortability with tefillah, then it was imperative that a transliteration be part of the siddur all the way through. Here we've used the Academy for Hebrew Language's 2006 guidelines for romanization of Hebrew, which possesses several helpful features, including: signifiying a dagesh chazak with a duplicated consonant, assimilating segol and tzerei, and vocalizing the sheva na with an 'e' so as to make it easier to pronounce.
I hope that's some small window into the process of creating this siddur that we and you have all helped to make a reality. Thank you to everyone who has supported us, and to my collaborators and partners, Aharon Varady, Noam Sienna, and R' Juan Meija. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for updates on our custom artwork and on the rabbis that have pledged their support to our project so far.