For centuries, prayer and liturgy have given Jewish life its rhythm, its sound, and its imagined and actual direction. Their festivals and fast days, as well as the continuous alternation of Shabbat and work days, shape the flow and experience of Jewish time. The prayer books are testaments to Jewish history, which is diverse and full of change; as in a collective diary, they trace the theological and sociological transformations of past centuries and the present.
But liturgy is more than just the text of the prayers: In addition to the prayer books, the halakhic, aggadic, kabbalistic, and philosophical texts that focus on what happens in the synagogue are important sources for the subject. The synagogue as a meeting place, as a space of prayer and learning, but also as an architectural experience, as a musical memorial, and as a container of history is a "text" that is read as part of the subject of liturgy. The Jewish home, the mikvah, Jewish summer camps, and public space are also places where Jewish life is lived; often in far more flexible ritual patterns.
Ritual and practice reflect and define many of the most important stages of personal life. Liturgy is more than marking moments in our collective memory; liturgy is also the ritual shaping of a personally important moment. Rooting these rituals historically, but also reflecting on and critiquing them, as well as learning to accompany people liturgically at the most important stages of their lives and understanding the role of the person or persons leading the ritual, is part of the subject of liturgy