I can think of two stories about a Siddur. Naomi Grunfeld, daughter of the notable Dayan in London, penned a story about an old Roedelheim siddur, as she heard it from her mother, and put it in the Yated Ne’eman over a decade ago. The story is here, and a scan of the article is here.

Hermann Schwab z’l, the prolific journalist and author who glorified his youth in Germany in several works, also had, among his stories for children, a book called “The Old Siddur”- about a talking Siddur befriending a young boy. (It is too long to retype, and I would need special permission, but I recommend the book on Hermann Schwab, which I reviewed elsewhere on this site.)

Closer to home, a Yeshivah dinner in the early 1980s featured a play about a Roedelheim siddur going through the year—with local youth and the KAJ choir singing the parts. The play was written and directed by our own Mr. Danny Frankel. I do not think a recording of this exists besides two songs I have among my father’s things.

All of these productions use a Siddur that tells a story. In fact, in real life, I have found that the Siddurim do talk. They often contain inscriptions, special family dates to remember, and signs of use that tell their tale and provenance. (Actually, this was  the point of Ms. Grunfeld’s article.)

I have two Roedelheims to write about today:

I bought a Roedelheim that was still printed in Germany, but possibly at the last moment. It is dated 1939 and lists Kaufmann Bros. in New York City as its publisher. You might say that this Siddur already had “one foot” in America. 

My second Roedelehim must have been picked out of a Sheimos box. It has many dates and inscriptions and would have been a mystery if I had not followed the genealogical blog of a certain “Brotman” family online. I suddenly noticed that some of the names in the siddur matched their genealogy. 

With some help I received online reading the German cursive, we had the name Maier Blumenfeld, a great-uncle to both Henry Rosenberg’s and Milton H.’s families. He had three children, two of whom died before the war and one in the Lodz ghetto. He had one grandchild who came to America with an only son in NYC. That only son declined to take the Siddur but was happy to hear that he had relatives, having assumed until now that he was the sole survivor. 

Here is the inscription in that book (actually, it is a Roedelheim cemetery companion.):

 “1886 30th day – ………… – Martha died

1890 My son Albert died

1895 5th day – …………………….. – the Father died

1922       9 Jun Father died. “

That last entry refers to Maier Blumenfeld’s death, the one who had made the other inscriptions. 
According to the very able and ambitious blog master Amy:

Image from brotmanblog.com

Meier Blumenfeld died on February 9, 1922, in Neustadt at the age of seventy. His wife Sarchen died eight years later, on January 30, 1930, in Duedelsheim, where her daughter Rosa lived. Meier and Sarchen were predeceased by their sons Joseph and Albert and survived by their other three children, Moses, Hermann, and Rosa, as well as their four grandchildren, Julius, Erich, Hilde, and Liselotte.
I learned from this book that, indeed, a Siddur can talk.

If a Siddur Could Talk

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