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Rosemary Jean-Louis

Music for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

By Rosemary Jean-LouisPosted September 4, 2013 1:56pm (EDT)
Music for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashahah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown tonight and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, follows 10 days later. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY, these holidays meant one thing to me: two welcome days off after our new school year had just started. As an adult, I have come to learn and appreciate the deeper meaning and origins of the high holidays chiefly through some of the arresting music played during those days. Here is an explanation of some of the music heard that has expanded my understanding. I hope they grow your family's learning too.

Rosh Hashanah is referred to as the “day of judgement.” On this day, it is believed that God opens the Book of Life and determines who will live or die. At extended synagogue services, the shofar or ram’s horn, is blown at different times to signal that congregants should prepare to repent and atone.

Jerry Sloat from the Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder, Colorado explains in this audio clip specifically when the shofar is blown and provides an example.

The beautiful prayer, the Avinu Malkeinu, translated as “Our Father, Our King” is also sung. It is a plea for compassion, forgiveness and blessing for the Jewish New Year. Listen to Barbra Streisand’s breathtaking version of the song below.

The Park Slope Jewish Center provides a list of songs and clips at their services. You can view them and listen to them here.

Check out Sarah Zaslow’s Midday Music playlist.

Violinist Itzak Perlman put together his favorite musical gems for the Jewish High Holidays. Listen to this special on what songs bring back fond memories and resonate with him.

What other music resonates to you during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? Share them below.

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