Cantor Jeff Warschauer
TJC Newsletter Article for April 2019
Pesach Songs from Across the Jewish World
Just as there are many different Jewish food cultures across the world, each with its unique flavors, so, too are there different Jewish music cultures. At no time is this more apparent than during Pesach, when family and community melodies abound in many tasty varieties. It’s my pleasure to share some of my favorites, in honor of the season. Please click on the links accompanying each song, and listen as you read!
Pesah Ala Mano
Music and Lyrics by Flory Jagoda
Born in Sarajevo, the singer and composer Flory Jagoda is a direct transmitter of the Bosnian Sephardic musical tradition. She wrote this Ladino song in honor of the time of year when women turn from the joy and excitement of Purim to the hard work of preparing for Passover.
“Purim is over, Passover is at hand… Egg pancakes are being made, the stuffed leaves are being baked, Almighty God gives us good fortune. Grandmother tells the grandchildren, ‘Clean the dust, corners and ceiling.’ The Rabbi tells the aunts not to eat bread for eight days…”
Deborah and I were greatly privileged to have befriended and worked with the beloved folk singer, musician, actor, composer, unionist and political activist, Theo Bikel, z”l. Mu Asapru, an Aramaic and Yiddish version of Ehad mi Yodea, is a true Bikel classic.
“How shall I tell, how shall I say, who can know, who can tell the meaning of One?
One is God, and no one else… Two are the Tablets of the Law… Three are our Patriarchs… Four are the Matriarchs… Five are the Books of Moses… Six are the Books of the Mishna… Seven are the Days of the Week… And One is God, and no one else…”
(Translation by Bikel, adapted)
And who doesn’t love to sing Chad Gadya?
“One little goat that my father bought for two zuzim, one little goat, one little goat. Then came a cat that ate the goat… Then came a dog that bit the cat… Then came a stick that beat the dog… Then came fire that burnt the stick… Then came water that quenched the fire… Then came the ox that drank the water… Then came the slaughterer who slaughtered the ox… Then came the Angel of Death who killed the slaughterer… Then came the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who slew the the Angel of Death… One little goat…”
(Translation by George Jakubovits, adapted from http://www.hebrewsongs.com/?song=chadgadya2#TL1)
Here are three wonderful versions, in three languages:
Did you know that our own Education Director Sharon Diamondstein’s father, Shabi Katzir, is an Israeli rock star, and from a Ladino-speaking family? I asked Sharon to ask her father about Ladino Pesach songs, and Shabi recommended this beautiful and sensitive recording of Chad Gadya performed by famed Israeli singer and actor Yehoram Gaon.
Chad Gadya (Italian)
I really love this funny and spirited Italian version of Chad Gadya sung here by Enrico Fink, grandson of an Italian cantor and, himself, a renowned cantor, flutist, singer and actor.
We conclude with a sparkling Yiddish rendition of Chad Gadya performed by the incomparable cantor and Yiddish theater and film actor, Moshe Oysher. Born in Bessarabia in 1906, Oysher came from a long line of hazzanim. A spectacular virtuoso, his singing is noted both for its earthiness and its elegance.
Deborah and I wish you and your loved ones a sweet, flavorful, musical and joyous Pesach!
Please contact me at email@example.com, or (347) 623-4228.
Cantor Jeff Warschauer