A Heavenly Song - Jewish Choral Music

Jewish choral music is currently enjoying a grand renaissance; Jewish vocal ensembles, synagogue and school choirs, and campus a cappella groups are springing up across North America. This coming summer, the North American Jewish Choral Festival will once again bring together hundreds of singers in the Catskill Mountains.

While choral singing characterized Temple worship in early Israelite religion, the destruction of the Temple led to a rabbinical ban on instrumental and vocal music as a sign of national mourning.* Choral singing is mentioned in the context of the medieval ceremony in which the head of the Babylonian Jewish community was appointed. It remained a peripheral phenomenon, however, until the Italian Renaissance, when the first artistic choir in synagogal history, founded by Rabbi Leone da Modena in the early 17th century, performed the liturgical work of Salamone Rossi Hebreo. In modern times the choir has become an integral part of many synagogues.

Non-liturgical choral music became a serious factor in Jewish cultural life with the founding in Eastern Europe of the ha-Zomir movement in 1899. JHOM.com celebrates the 100th anniversary of this movement with a feature on choral music, with a special focus on the Zamir Chorale of Boston. We invite our readers to enjoy several recordings of Zamir performances.

stars in the sky
graphic Hebrew
"The luminaries gather every morning
and sing a song of praise to God..." (The Zohar)

* Gittin 7a [back]

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