One of the reasons there wasn't a new version of the Velveteen Rabbi's Haggdah for Pesach this year is that the time, energy, and attention that I typically invest in haggadah revisions went, this year, toward creating a siddur for my niece's bat mitzvah.
I wanted to create something which would be liturgically complete enough that those who needed to feel yotzei (that they had fulfilled their obligation to pray) would be able to achieve that goal -- but at the same time I wanted our homegrown liturgy to be pray-able in Hebrew and in English, and I wanted it to be accessible to those who were unaccustomed to Shabbat afternoon/evening davenen and/or to Jewish prayer in general.
I wanted to showcase my niece's prose and poetry and illustrations alongside some of my other favorite liturgical poems and passages. I wanted a balance of tradition and innovation that would meet my niece's (and her immediate family's) needs, and would also give a sense of one way to daven Renewal-style (since that's the flavor of prayer I find sweetest.) And I wanted to accomplish all of this in a way that honored our schedule, ideally in a way that would leave people wanting more.
I'm tremendously proud of the end result, and I'm offering it here as a resource. I imagine it may be helpful to folks who are preparing to lead mincha/maariv/havdalah services, especially when there's a bar or bat mitzvah involved. It may also be interesting to my fellow liturgy geeks -- and to those members of my family who weren't present but would like to see the siddur we used -- and, who knows, maybe to others, too!
This .pdf file doesn't include the watercolor cover (which you can see below in tiny thumbnail form) nor Emma's many illustrations (I'm especially sorry that this doesn't include her shviti drawing, a beautiful full-color illustration of a Tree of Life with God's names interwoven among the leaves and bark.) But it does include poems (hers and mine, alongside a few other favorites) and also my niece's terrific midrash on this week's parsha, Shlach, which gives voice to some of the Israelites sent to investigate the land of Canaan. This siddur offers one possible way to celebrate both the liminal space of Shabbat afternoon/evening, and of a young woman's formal religious coming-of-age.
(Edited in 2005 to add: an updated version of this siddur is now available at my website: scroll down to the "Lifecycle" section of my ritual archive and download the pdf from there.)
Of course, nothing's perfect -- not even a siddur created lovingly and proofread assiduously by smart people (thanks, Aliza!) There are a few typos. And we neglected to inform the printer that we wanted these bound on the right, whoops. And, of course, this bound siddur doesn't include any of the kavvanot that I offered aloud from the bimah -- the words I spoke and sang to introduce and explain the various parts of the service. But isn't that always the way? Even the most beautiful prayerbook is always, inevitably, what my teacher Reb Zalman calls "freeze-dried liturgy"; voices, intention, and heart are needed to reconstitute it and bring it to life.
I welcome questions about and responses to the siddur. Enjoy!