As creative designer, I wanted this children’s siddur to be more than a collection of words and pictures. I wanted the design to provoke thought and stimulate discussion. My goal was to devise a prayerbook for younger students that would be engaging and educational without relying on textual commentary. Images and layout, instead of explanations, would have to illustrate the structure of the prayerbook and the significant themes of the prayers. Yet many ideas found in the Siddur are difficult to illustrate; how does one draw a picture of ‘God is One’? For each prayer, we asked: how can we design this page to communicate the main idea of this text?
The Aleinu is a prayer that speaks of God’s unity: “On that day, God’s name will be One” yet remarkably, the Aleinu uses seven different names for God: HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Shadai, Eloheinu, etc. The two page spread below for the Aleinu is a visual midrash that tries to answer the question, why would the Aleinu prayer use so many names for God, when ultimately, the prayer is suggesting that God’s name is only one?
The answer to this puzzling question was suggested by the spectrum’s seven colours as seen with a prism. The prism that refracts a single beam of white light illustrates how the seven names/colours are really one. Our solution was to write each of the seven names in a different colour of the rainbow (three of the names that appear in the final paragraph—not present in the abbreviated text included here—float on the page) with the four letter Tetragrammaton (Adonai) in white.
The page above with the Mi Chamocha bridges the Shma’s concluding blessing of Ge'ulah, redemption, with the Amidah. The text of the Mi Chamocha from Shirat Hayam is decorated with an image of the water split at the top and bottom of the page, and the letters of Yisrael in the middle. These letters also form the first letters for the names of each of the matriarchs and patriarchs, connecting this page to its facing page, the opening paragraph of the Amidah. We affirm our link to the people of Israel as we remember the Avot and Imahot.
A series of ‘icons’ representing the major prayer sections and the blessings of the Amidah form a graphic ‘table of contents’ to help orient the worshipper; on the left, the highlighted icon indicates the current place (Birkot Hashachar — the Morning Blessings).
Below, the shacharit Amidah is open to the second blessing of the Amidah: the Gevurot, God’s power. The calendar image represents the 6 months we insert the prayer for rain and the 6 months we pray for dew (in Israel). This prayer, praising God as the source of life, connects the ideas of death and rebirth with the cycle of the seasons and the natural sources of fresh water (in Israel): rain and dew.
Across the top of this two page spread, icons represent the 18 benedictions of the Amidah (and the highlighted icon the worshipper’s place). The Amidah’s overall structure is indicated by the icon’s colour: the first three blessings of praise, the middle 12 blessings of requests, (further divided into two: blessings for the individual, and for community), and the final three blessings of thanks.