When I was little I would walk to shul with my mother in my black, patent leather shoes and navy, velvet dresses. On those Shabbat mornings I remember walking on the curb like a ballerina and staring above me at the wondrous canopy of tree branches that sheltered us from the sun. At shul we would find my grandmother and great-grandmother already sitting with their white lace kerchiefs and sweet perfume. Together we would sit: four generations of women praying together. I remember that my grandmother's siddur (prayerbook) was the color of the sky, and there were bookmarks in it. Grandma kept it on her night table and picked it up as soon as she got up in the morning. I will never forget the sight of Grandma standing by her stain glassed kitchen window in a pool of golden light whispering the first of her morning prayers.

Its pages were worn and frayed at the edges When I was a teenager my grandmother bought me a beautiful, brown leather siddur. It had my Hebrew name written in gold letters. I took it with me to school and to camp. And eventually I took it with me to college. By then its pages were worn and frayed at the edges. But I didn't want a new one, because in those pages were all the prayers of a lost, searching teenager who had made her way through so many questions. And on the first day of university my roommate walked in, and it was truly a match arranged by the One who plans every detail of our lives. My roommate was a religious Catholic, and she had her own prayer book. She was from a tiny town in the Midwest and until that day she had never met a Jew. But we quickly adjusted to each other. At night we would both be saying our prayers. I was whispering the "Shema" and she was saying "Now I lay me down to sleep." When I explained to her that I couldn't turn the lights on or off on the Shabbat she didn't blink an eye. "I don't mind you leaving your lamp on," she said.

My siddur stayed upon my night table all through university. I poured my heart out as I searched for my purpose in life. Later I cried into its worn pages as I looked for my life partner. At my wedding I prayed from the same siddur before my chuppah. Since then I have never received such a precious gift. It wasn't just a gift of love. My grandmother had given me a piece of the chain, and she had entrusted me with the responsibility to pass it on to my children.

It is the first book she will read So here I sit at my youngest daughter's siddur party, my digital camera poised in one hand, and my other hand wiping away a stray tear. My daughter is standing on the stage with her snow white sweater and her carefully braided hair. Last night I checked on my children in the middle of the night, and my daughter turned over in her sleep and mumbled: "Tomorrow I'm getting my siddur, Mommy." This is my first grader who has just learned to read. The first book she will read will be this prayer book. I think about my grandmother as my daughter reaches out her arms to receive her first siddur from the principal.

"Mommy, I know you pray for me. Now look at me. I can pray too." the girls had all sung together on the stage. My daughter stands under a gate decorated with white roses, and poses for a picture with her prayer book. She is hugging her siddur like it is the softest of teddy bears or the most precious of jewels.

"This is what we hand down to our children. From great- grandmother to grandmother to mother to daughter. The words and the love to be able to pray. And today our first graders join the chain." the principal says.

That night my daughter insists on keeping her siddur next to her bed. "I want to use it as soon as I get up!" she tells me. I watch her clutching her siddur as she goes down the steps to her bedroom, and I whisper my own silent prayer. May my daughter always love her siddur like she does today. May she turn to its ancient words when she is happy, when she is sad, when she is confused, when she is lonely, when she is lost… May she take her place in the chain. I watch her place her siddur on her night table, and I see her first prayers finding their place in a long line of yearning and love.