to our ears
poetry in song
songs of praise and thanksgiving, or modern Yiddish poetry; medieval
religious and erotic poems, or Hasidic melodies and Jewish folk
songs; pioneering musical renditions of revived Hebrew poetry
or Israeli Rock ‘N Roll - Jewish poetic forms from around
the world were, and still are, constantly adorned by a variety
of musical compositions.
Whether in synagogue or at home, serving as the voice of the community
or singing a lullaby to a baby - biblical verses and secular poems
are music to our ears - a cornerstone and reflection of Jewish
exhibit illustrates trends and traditions of some of these melodic
expressions. We've highlighted four different areas of creative
expression: Biblical poetry, Piyutim, Yiddish poetry, and modern
The Bible has served as a rich
source of inspiration for musicians from the earliest times.
Its psalms indicate that musical instruments were used when
chanted. Biblical verse has found musical expression in
many areas of Jewish life & culture, from Sabbath liturgies
to Jewish campfire sing-a-longs and Israeli folk-dancing.
Many biblical verses have been incorporated into synagogue
services, and biblical love poetry has enriched wedding
celebrations throughout the world.
compositions intended to embellish an obligatory prayer or any
other religious ceremony, communal or private. In a wider sense,
piyyut is the totality of compositions composed in various genres
of Hebrew liturgical poetry from the first centuries of the Common
Era until the beginning of the Haskalah. In ancient times, the
piyyutim were intended to replace most of the set versions of
prayer and to serve as substitutes. They ensured variety of the
obligatory prayers, mainly on Sabbaths and festivals. In a later
period, when the prayers became fixed, sections of piyyut were
interspersed in certain places within the set pattern of the prayers.
Naturally, most of the very extensive piyyut literature is devoted
to the adornment of the major holy days. However, during the early
oriental (eastern) period of the history of the piyyut, liturgical
compositions were also produced in great abundance for regular
Sabbaths, for simple fast days, and even for weekdays. Obligatory
prayers were also embellished with special sets of piyyutim for
private occasions, such as weddings, circumcisions, and mourning.
(Source: Encyclopedia Judaica)
does not speak Yiddish, goes the saying, rather –
Yiddish speaks itself. The same may be said about Yiddish
poetry and folk songs, lending themselves to musical interpretations
for as long as Yiddish was spoken.
From Goldfaden’s musical theatre, to Itzik Manger’s
Golden Peackock, from Melekh Ravitz’s poems,
to the revival of Yiddish culture on campuses across the
world – Yiddish still sings itself.
early poetry of the Land of Israel became a source of inspiration
to pioneering musicians, as does modern Israeli poetry to
punk, rock and hip-hop performers and composers of today.
Words written by poets such as Bialik, Rachel, Zelda, Zach,
Amichai, and many other Hebrew poets, have become the lyrics
of popular songs that are played daily in Israel today.
An interactive database of Jewish songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, and
Poetry in the New Millennium / by Amir Or
Discussion of the structure and features of Biblical poetry.
Includes some examples from the Christian Bible.
Collection of articles on Hebrew poetry from the Helicon Society
music on the web
Includes links to Israeli music resources including the homepages
for many Israeli bands and performers.
of Israel (from Wikipedial, a free web encyclopedia)
Includes articles on Israeli poetry, literature, and various musical
A mega-site of and about Israeli poetry. Includes links to specific
poets’ sites, an audio site for recited poetry, a data base
for teachers, etc. In Hebrew.
Searchable by author, title, keyword. Includes popular as well
as classic poems and songs.
set to music
A database containing hundreds of poems, mostly of modern Israeli
poets and the music written to their work. In Hebrew. Audio links.
you have any further questions about finding information on this,
or any other topic, ask your local HUC-JIR librarian or email
us using the form on the homepage.