Seyder Tkhines The Forgotten Book of Common Prayer for Jewish Women

About the Book

The Seyder Tkhines, translated from its original Yiddish by noted tkhines scholar, Devra Kay, and centerpiece of this groundbreaking work, was a standard Yiddish prayer book for women.

It first appeared in Amsterdam in 1648, and continued to be published for the next three generations, usually inside the Hebrew synagogue prayer book. A product of an age when mysticism pervaded mainstream Judaism, the Seyder Tkhines provided women with newly composed, alternative daily prayers that were more specific to their needs.

Included in this volume is a unique Yiddish manuscript dating from the 17th century – a collection of prayers written specifically for a rich, pregnant woman, which Kay discovered among the rare books of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England.

Now, for the first time, these prayers have been skillfully translated and brought to public view.

In addition to her translations, Kay presents her own extensive commentary, providing a deeper understanding of the historic, religious, and cultural background of this period in Jewish history. This unparalleled book will have special appeal to those interested in the social, literary, and religious history of women, as well as the history of the Yiddish language and literature. The interest in these forgotten prayers and their significance to the lives of women has now been revived, and these tkhines are ready to be rediscovered by a modern readership.


Devra Kay is brilliant! . . . This book not only fills a white space in Jewish women’s liturgical history, it is a gift to all Jewish women and men who want to come closer to the religious life of their forbears, and thus, to their own.
—Blu Greenberg, co-founder and first president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance
Kay’s reclamation of this nearly lost tradition in Jewish writing and practice is a great accomplishment . . . Highly recommended.
—Library Journal

This gem of a book deals with a ‘forgotten’ volume of tkhines from the 17th century . . . . A work of impeccable scholarship, it is even accessible to those with little knowledge in this area . . . . This book is a major contribution to the literature.

—Jewish Book World

A fascinating examination of the work . . . . Devra Kay weaves a marvelous picture of the economic, religious, and social background of the [Seyder Tkhines].

—Jewish Chronicle, London

Kay has done us a great service in providing these translations together with her suggestive analysis of the texts and their contexts.

—JOFA Journal

Devra Kay

Devra Kay is the author of numerous articles on tkhines and Yiddish women’s literature. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy from Oxford University, England, where she was the first full-time lector in Yiddish. She was a Research Fellow and the first Director of Yiddish and Ashkenazic Studies at Queen Mary and Westfield College, London University. She currently works at the House of Commons.

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