The liturgical tradition of the Jews of Catalonia, Valencia and Mallorca
This Siddur is a reconstruction of the ancient Nusach Catalunya, the Nusach of the Tefillah used by the Jews in Catalonia, Valencia and Mallorca during the Middle Ages (at the time known as the Rishonim period). Catalonia was different from the other kingdoms in Sepharad – politically, culturally and linguistically, and this difference influenced also the customs and the Tefillah Nusach of the Jews of Catalonia. Catalonia is close to Provence in the north and Sepharad in the south, so Catalan Jews were influenced by these two Torah centers. Catalan Jewry developed unique characteristics, which included a tradition of Halakhic Psikah (halakhic ruling), Minhaguim (customs) and a Tefillah Nusach. During the time period of the Rishonim, Catalonia, and especially its capital, the city of Barcelona, was an important Torah center with its own Bet Midrash that developed a special method of study and jurisprudence different from that of Sepharad. The Catalan Bet Midrash was very close to the way of study of the sages of France and Provence. A whole school of sages illuminated the Jewish World from the Catalan Bet Midrash. Those sages composed their works in a spirit that combines the Sephardic approach with that of the Ba’aleh ha-Tossafot and the sages of Provence.
Among the great luminaries of the Catalan Bet Midrash, the following stand out: Rabbi Yehudah ben Barzillai al-Bargeloni (1070-?), Rabbi Abraham bar Ḥiyya ha-Nasi (c. 1070 – 1136 or 1145), Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, Ramban (1194–1270), Rabbenu Yona Girondi (1210-1263), Rabbi Aharon ha-Levi, Ra’aH (1235-1303), Rabbi Shlomoh ben Adret, Rashba (1235-1310), Rabbenu Nissim ben Reuven Girondi, RaN (1315-1376), Rabbi Hasdai Crescas (1340-1412), Rabbi Isaac bar Sheshet, Ribash (1326-1408), Rabbi Shimon ben Zemah Duran, Rashbatz (1361-1444), among many others.
Medieval Catalonia had its own halachic and liturgical tradition, distinct from that of Sefarad, Ashkenaz or Italy
Nusach Catalunya is the ancient liturgical tradition of the Jews of Catalonia, Valencia and Mallorca. In the wake of the 1391 pogroms and the expulsion in 1492, the Jews of Catalonia migrated to North Africa, Italy, the Ottoman Empire and the Land of Israel, and with them their ancient Nusach and traditions. Except for a few Machzorim for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Catalan Nusach was never printed and was only preserved in manuscript.
The Siddur presented here is based on six manuscripts from the 14th-16th centuries and constitutes the recovery of the ancient Nusach Catalunya. The Siddur includes the prayers for the common days, Shabbat, festivities, Passover Haggadah, Azharot for Shavuot, Hoshaanot for Sukkot and Yom Aravah (Hoshaanah Rabbah), fasts, Yamim Noraim, tefillot and berachot for different events in the life of the person, baqashot and halachot for the festivities, etc. The Siddur also includes commentaries, halachot and minhaguim that were compiled by a disciple of Rabbenu Yonah Girondi at the Bet Midrash of Barcelona.
The purpose of the project is to recover, publish and share the Catalan halachic and liturgical customs that unfortunately were forgotten due to the diaspora, the persecutions and the final expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula.