Cantor Jeff Warschauer
TJC Newsletter Article for May 2021
Songs of Spring, Nature and the Torah
By the time May rolls around in Princeton, spring is in full swing! The warm weather is here, and we can gather outside and enjoy nature to the fullest.
And the month of May this year brings us Shavuot, a joyous agricultural festival which highlights nature and the giving of the Torah.
So let’s enjoy some songs, from across the Jewish world, that celebrate the themes of spring, nature and the Torah.
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We’ll start with two songs about spring and nature, first with a lesser-known Yiddish song entitled “Kinder kumt der friling ruft/Children Come, Spring Calls.”
I first came across this song as I was preparing to teach my yearly Yiddish song class at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland. My theme that year was “Songs of Nature and the Land,” and this song was a perfect fit. As the article below mentions (see the link), the melody is also heard in the well-known klezmer tune “Nakhes fun kinder/Naches from Kids.” (We should all have lots of that!).
The link, which describes and presents this song, as well as many others, is from the great website “The Yiddish Song of the Week.”
Next we have the well-known Sephardic folk song “Los Bilbilicos/The Nightingales,” which is also sung to the lyric “La Rosa Enflorese/The Rose is Blossoming,” and to the Shabbat zemer “Tsur Mishelo.” The performance is by the wonderful Sephardic duo Jak and Janet Esim, from Istambul, with their ensemble.
"The little nightingales are singing in the blossom tree, and beneath the tree are seated those who are suffering from love..."
(Translation adapted from http://sefaradizo.org/muzica/los_bilbilicos/los_bilbilicos-lyrics-en.pdf)
And the performance is here:
And now here are two songs that celebrate the Torah.
Many of you know the song "Mipi El." Here is a mixed-language Hebrew and Ladino version:
"From the mouth of God, all of Israel shall be blessed. From the mouth of God, all of the Jews are blessed.There's none holier than Adonai, and none as pious as Ben Amram [Moses], none as guarded as Our Law [the Torah],and none as modest as Israel."
(Adapted from https://lyricstranslate.com/en/de-boka-del-dio-mouth-god.html)
This performance (with some variants from the translation above)is by the long-time hazzan of London's Bevis Marks Synagogue, Reverend Halfon Benarroch:
Finally, the Hasidic classic "Moshe Emes," sung here by Hasidic superstar Avram Fried, in a very energetic and snazzy arrangement:
"Moshe is true, and his Torah is true!"
Deborah and I send you and all your loved ones our warmest wishes for a very happy and healthy spring, and a Chag Sameach!
Please contact me at email@example.com, or (347) 623-4228.
Cantor Jeff Warschauer