The Jewish prayer book, the sidur, is the longest continuous record of the history, philosophy, literature and ethics of the Jewish people. It has been read and reread in every generation, in every Jewish community. Elobgen's analysis covers the entire range of Jewish liturgical development - beginning with the early cornerstones of the siddur, such as the Amidah, the Shema through the evolution of the meieval piyyut tradition, to modern prayerbook reform in Germany and the United States. This book traces the origins of present-day prayers, noting the many variants that arise within historical periods and different geographic communities. The work includes generous citations from primary sources such as rabbinic texts, comparative historical documents, medieval commentators, and modern scholarship. Included are full bibliographies and several useful indexes, among them an index of prayers in Hebrew and English.