The Open Siddur Project

The Open Siddur is a project to develop a tool for individuals and groups to build the siddur (Jewish prayerbook) they've always wanted. Imagine a siddur that is completely customizable, allowing one to not only see unfamiliar and obscure nusachim (regional traditions) but also to remix the siddur with piyyutim with personally chosen translations, commentary, and art.

The siddur is a reflection of the incredible diversity and history of the Jewish tradition, an aggregate of thousands of years of creativity preserved in nusachim. The siddur has long served as the single common spiritual and educational tool for Jews of all backgrounds. The Open Siddur makes accessible all the creativity preserved in traditions historically separated by geography and by the limitations of non-digital publishing.

The foundation of the project is a digital archive of siddur content that is accessible and free under permissive copyleft licenses. Currently, the Open Siddur/Jewish Liturgy Project team is busy on the first two phases of this project: 1) developing an extension to the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative)'s standard for encoding text in XML, and 2) acquiring the core content of siddur nusachim through negotiations with like minded partners, transcription, and scanning and OCR of siddurim. The code we are developing is open source (GPL) and the content we are digitizing is available under a permissive zlib license.

The Open Siddur is an open team representing the diversity of the Jewish community. We invite developers and contributors from all the diverse geographically dispersed communities, from all the religious and spiritual streams of Judaism, and from academies and yeshivot.

This project is just beginning. To share your thoughts and energy join our project wiki. Development discussions take place on our publicly available listserve. Our open source code, with an early proof of concept of an Open Haggadah, is hosted at our project page over at Google Code.

Project Goals

Create a core archive of digitized siddur content
-- format: XML. Develop an extension to TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) Standard relevant to Jewish liturgy
-- scanning: use Hebrew OCR tools that recognize nikkudim and other diacritical marks for scanning siddurim (in the public domain pre-1923).
-- partners: develop partners with already digitized core content to contribute directly to the Open Siddur.
-- Create a development space for transcription of siddur core content.
-- transcription: all digitized content to be permissive copyleft (CC-BA), work to be crowdsourced

Create a tool for contributing add-on content (translations, commentary, instructions, art, prayers, template layouts)
-- create a development space for user and group collaborations in preparing add-on content
-- add-on content to be distributed with core to be released with permissive copyleft

Project Vision

-- Develop a tool for individuals and groups to contribute to and build their own customized siddurim
-- Reclamation of individual ownership over t'fillah (Jewish prayer) while maintaining solidarity with and awareness of the whole Jewish community and its diversity.