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Yair Rosenblum’s Unetaneh Tokef

Unetaneh Tokef is one of the central prayers for the Yamim Noraim, and one of the most familiar tunes for it is that which was written by Yair Rosenblum. Rosenblum is one of the most important figures in the history of Israeli music and in 1990 he was living on Kibbutz Beit Hashitah in the […]

Origins of the Mourner’s Kaddish

The most recent issue of the AJS Review has a very good article about the origins of the mourner’s kaddish (קדיש יתום). Unlike many scholars who have written about the origins of the mourner’s kaddish and located its origins as a response the Crusades, David Shyovitz (“You Have Saved Me from the Judgement of Gehenna”: […]

Hoshana Like You’ve Never Seen it Before

A very nice modern interpretation of a traditional Jewish liturgical prayer.

New and Important Article on Alenu

Jeff Hoffman has written an important article on the Alenu prayer, The Image of the Other in Jewish Interpretations of Alenu. Hoffman not only addresses interpretations of the Other, but also gives an informative overview of the liturgical history of the Alenu prayer. The text of Alenu can first be documented in the 10th century […]

Western Sephardic Liturgy-Online resources

Last year the blog Homes da Nação compiled a list of online resources for Western Sephardic liturgy. The Western Sephardi Diaspora began its development in the mid 16th century when Spanish and Portuguese Jews, who had been forced to convert to Christianity during the previous two centuries, returned to Judaism in considerable numbers. Before that […]

The Meaning of Ma’avirin et Ro’a HaGezeirah from Unetaneh Tokef

My colleague, Rabbi Jeff Hoffman, has written a post about the meaning of the phrase “Ma’avirin et Ro’a HaGezeirah” from Unetaneh Tokef. For many generations, there have been commentators – including Ramban (12th c.)[3] and R. Yitzchak Arama (15th c.), among many others – that have taken issue with the theology of the prayer. Many […]

Video: Conference on Prayer and Liturgy from BGU

Earlier this year Ben-Gurion University hosted a conference on prayer and liturgy. Videos of the presentations from the conference have been posted to Youtube and below are a few of them. Most of the videos are in Hebrew. Hat tip to Michal Bar-Asher Siegel whose talk on “Prayer in Rabbinic and Monastic Literature” is the […]

A Religious and Cultural Critique of Haim Gouri’s Bab el-Wad

One of the most well-known songs associated with Yom ha-Zikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) is Haim Gouri’s Bab el-Wad, known by many through the singing of Yaffa Yarkoni. The song is a powerful and moving memorial for the soldiers who fought in order to bring supplies to Jerusalem during the War of Independence through Bab el-Wad […]

Remembering the Exodus From Egypt

Below is a source sheet from a talk that I gave about the commandment to remember the exodus from Egypt. The sources that I spoke about show the disagreement that exists about how the exodus from Egypt is remembered, when it is to be remembered, and the Biblical sources for such an obligation. I decided […]

NY Times Gets it Wrong on Women and Jewish Prayer

A recent article in the NYT on prayer at the Kotel included the followed statement. Jewish law requires only men to pray daily, though many women have taken on the obligation voluntarily. This statement is simply incorrect. While there are disagreements about the extant and frequency of a woman’s obligation to pray, almost every Jewish […]

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