I am fascinated when I view old and even current Siddurim used in shuls in U.S. It seems that as demographics changed, new Siddurim were designed to cater to this.

For example, the 1st English translated Siddur I used was Birnbaum. That seemed to be the popular Siddur in Modern Orthodox shuls. Conservative ones used Phillips, or something similar. Then, when Art Scroll Siddurim became popular, it pretty much knocked out Birnbaum. Now, in a sense, Koren is rivaling Art Scroll.

There must be something other than just rival marketing that drives these different Siddurim being created. I'm curious if anyone has compiled some history or something else that has analyzed why these Siddurim were created; which demographic group used them; what made them "new" or stand out from others - among other ideas.

While my main interest is in the Siddurim that have English translation and prefer Nusach Ashkenaz, I am certainly interested in Nusach Sefard and Hebrew only Siddurim. But, I am narrowing this down to U.S. / Canadian - focused Siddurim, not those that may have been designed in say, pre-WW2 Europe that were brought here, unless such Siddurim impacted a general group of Americans who already lived here, and not limited to just those immigrants.

1 Answer 1


This is the way I see it. Birnbaum translated in a time when someone Orthodox and fluent in English and capable of this was in rare supply. He made an acceptably Orthodox translation, but it had some issues that the more Chareidi elements didn't particularly like.

Artscroll is nothing if not a Chareidi product, and the increased influence of that group of Jews carried it to prominence. It also helps that aesthetically Artscroll is nicer just because it benefits from being made later and (probably) better funded. It was also a Siddur that a Ba'al Teshuva could pick up and entirely teach themselves how to daven from (irrespective of if that is a good idea or not, the information is there).

Koren represents the Modern Orthodox side of things (it's Amazon page touts: "Modern orthodox halakhic guides to daily, Shabbat, and holiday prayers supplement the traditional text. Prayers for the State of Israel, its soldiers, and national holidays, and for the American government and its military reinforce the siddur's contemporary relevance.")

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    This is an interesting summary of the 3 popular Siddurim that I mentioned. I'm looking for a more extensive list. The 2nd paragraph claim about Art Scroll being a Chareidi product sound like an extension based on assuming that Rav Scherman, one of the main founders & authors was a student of R. Gordon, a shaliach of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. AFAIK, he is not Hareidi (I may be worng), but regardless, you know yourself that Lubavitch, at least uses Tehillat Hashem, not Art Scroll. Few Hareidi minyanim are using Art Scroll siddurim. My answer also seeks a more general history book, not just these 3.
    – DanF
    Jun 26, 2015 at 18:49
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    @DanF you know that chareidi is not the same as chassidic, right?
    – Shamiach
    Jun 26, 2015 at 19:07
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    @DanF "Few Hareidi minyanim are using Art Scroll siddurim" Can I ask where you're basing that from? From what I've seen, almost all the siddurim in what one might consider "Hareidi/Right Wing", unless they just haven't gotten siddurim recently, are almost exclusively Art Scroll (oftentimes the all-Hebrew version). The only shuls I see that don't use Art Scroll, are generally ones that daven in a Nusach that Art Scroll doesn't publishes. Jun 26, 2015 at 19:17
  • @Shamiach Answer to your question, "Not until you just told me". Hence, my uneducated assumption. Unfortunately, I can't edit a comment. My apologies for being ignorant.
    – DanF
    Jun 26, 2015 at 19:23
  • @Salmononius2 See ^^^
    – DanF
    Jun 26, 2015 at 19:23

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