What kind of Sefaradi is this?
Siddur Masorti is a pan-Sefaradi nusaḥ - meaning it is a composite of several different community’s traditions, including: Maghrebi, Témani, Iraqi, Livornese, Spanish-Portuguese, and others. Rather than represent any of them perfectly, we chose to create a fusion which allows all Sefaradim to access the text. Generally where there are communal differences, we have done our best to indicate them with colour and notes.
Who is this meant for?
Siddur Masorti is meant for everyone! In particular though, we hope to reach two sadly disparate groups of people: 1) Masorti (Conservative) Jews who have assumed or have been told that their Judaism is inherently Ashkenazi. To challenge those assumptions and the pervasive Ashkenormativity of non-Orthodox Judaism is the first aim. 2) To show Sefaradim who identify as ‘masorti’ (meaning neither dati nor ḥiloni) that there is the possibility of having a traditional text and practice which is also egalitarian, and that egalitarianism doesn’t have to mean Ashkenazi.
What do you mean by gender-neutral?
The English translation. The Hebrew text is unchanged– but as masculine Hebrew can be interpreted into English as neuter (since there is no neuter in Hebrew), we have chosen to translate it that way. Thus, any place where the Divine is referred to in the third person, we have used the singular-they in small capitals (THEY is). Though for many this will be a jarring sight on the pages of a Siddur, we are hoping it is constructively so– as it is a reminder of the theologically orthodox position which is central to this effort: that God has no body, no sex, no gender, and is thus neither masculine nor feminine.
What is non-binary Hebrew?
As Hebrew itself does not posses a neuter form, the real challenge for those who are non-binary, genderfluid, or non-identifying is the forced choice between masculine language (for instance, Modeh Ani) and feminine (Modah Ani). Thanks to the amazing work of Lior Gross and Eyal Rivlin at the Non-Binary Hebrew Project, there is an effort to pioneer a new grammatical form to represent non-binary or neuter (Modet Ani). Although this is a considerable diversion from Hebrew grammar, we believe it is worthwhile for the few occasions in the Siddur where first-person or gender-specific language is required. We have aimed for a spirit of universal design– choosing forms which allow all people, regardless of gender, to use the same language. However, there are a few places where that is not possible and there we have utilised the forms from the NBHP.