ONE of the most eloquent pleas ever made in America for the revitalization of the Sabbath was in a paper read by Rabbi Israel Harburg at the 1937 meeting of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. His plea, though deeply stirring, and his practical suggestions, though thoroughly convincing, are now all but forgotten. Among other things Rabbi Harburg called attention to the Sefer ha-Shabbat which was published in Tel Aviv, Palestine. "Even a casual glance at this work," he said, "will make one see clearly that the Sabbath was uppermost in the minds of our greatest prophets and lawgivers, of saints and psalmists, of poets and philosophers, of our men of letters as well as of our greatest Jewish artists." Rabbi Harburg then added "that the Conference would render a great service for the cause of the Sabbath by publishing a similar work in English." The present volume, though not as all-inclusive as its prototype, the Sefer ha-Shabbat, is meant to serve a similar purpose. Its aim is to reaffirm the historic truth that the Sabbath is "the cornerstone of Judaism."
In planning this volume the compiler constantly bore in mind the needs of the American Jewish community. It was his purpose not only to make American Jewry more aware of the central importance of the Sabbath as an institution in the pattern of Jewish life, but also to provide the observant American Jew with a practical guide and handbook for Sabbath observance. To meet this general purpose, Hebrew prayers and hymns were transliterated in accordance with the Ashkenazic instead of the Sefardic pronunciation which is otherwise followed in this book.