Question: I am researching various tefillot, and I need background information on each prayer, especially the relevant laws and traditions guiding the recitation of the prayers, and the differences between the Ashkenazi and Sefardi customs. The Encyclopedia Judaica and Jewish Encyclopedia do not have the details I need. What resource do you suggest?
Answer: The comprehensive Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer (1993) by Macy Nulman provides this information for over 1300 individual Hebrew prayers. Nulman explains when and how the prayer is recited, specifies variations in the text, identifies the author (or attributed author), and provides a partial translation or information about the prayer's contents and meaning. Differences between various Ashkenaic and various Sephardic tradtions are also noted.
Although the entries are listed alphabetically according to their transliterated spellings, a Hebrew-language index of "first lines" is provided. A bibliography of additional resources for each prayer is also provided.
The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer is located in the Reserve section of The JTS Library at BM 660 N85 1993.