Seder Hatefilot – Form of Prayers according to the custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, David Levi, London, 1789.

LeviSiddur01This is a Siddur (a prayer book with daily and Sabbath prayers), published in London in 1789 by David Levi. It is important as it was the first Siddur with an English translation.  It is very comprehensive with prayers for every occasion as well as a prayer for the Royal Family – King George III.

David Levi was one of the earliest Anglo-Jewish scholars, bilingual in Hebrew and English, and a fierce defender of the Jews.   He was born to poor immigrant parents in London in 1742 and worked as a shoemaker, then as a hatter, then as a printer.  He was very well read and wrote about Judaism for both Christians and Jews.

His first published work, A Succinct Account of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews (1782), tried to explain Judaism to Jews and to correct Christian misconceptions about Judaism. Next, he translated the prayer books of both the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews.  In 1787 he translated the Chumash (Five Books of Moses) into English and also published a Hebrew grammar and dictionary, and a guide to the Hebrew language.

My copy also has two pages of family history handwritten at the back – the family of Mendes Lyon – see the bottom of the scans below:



This is the prayer for the Royal Family, first in Hebrew and then in English:



This is a prayer for those who have suffered martyrdom – appropriate for the descendants of those who escaped the Spanish Inquisition:



This is the signature of the typesetter/printer, the single man Shalom Tzvi the son of the late Shmuel from the community of London:


The first page of family history is written in very faded pencil and is difficult to make out.  It starts:

Rebecca Lyon. Born….19th April 1830.

Born a son 31st May 183?.  Name Solomon Mendes Lyon.

Boy…. 15th October 1832.

David Lyon born Saturday….


The second page is clearer:




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