"HaYom." Today. A potent Hebrew word. A word that is taught early on in the Hebrew curriculum of any language course worth its salt. And the name of a piyyut we sing toward the end of the Mussaf service on the Yom Tovim.

As I have written about previously, I am a member of an Octet that accompanies our synagogue's hazzan for the Yom Tov services. (And I am happy to report that we are once again a 9-person octet; correction to my previous New York, Nu York essay!) Our octet sings and hums along to various prayers, making ever more dramatic many of the crucial prayers, and this is one of the highlights of my religious year. And this activity has also made me reflect every year on the tunes we sing...and the tunes we no longer sing.

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Our octet and congregation has=ve sung along to the piyyut (poem-prayer) "HaYom" with a particular tune for the past several years, and I do enjoy the music. I have even carved out a certain "ooh" phrase for myself, and it seems that my fellow octet members have ceded it to me. That's cool. But I cannot help but think of the "HaYom" tune I knew when I was younger, and that we no longer sing at my synagogue, the East Midwood Jewish Center of Brooklyn.

I cannot include a video or podcast here, so suffice it to say that the two different "HaYom" tunes are quite different, although they are both delivered in minor keys, both involve a great deal of repetition, and both have bouncy elements in spite of their minor keys. (Minor keys are a big part of Jewish music in general, but that's for another essay or two or three.)

A year or two ago, during one of our Octet rehearsals prior to the High Holidays, I broached the subject of the "other HaYom" tune. That tune happened to have been favored by our associate rabbi, who passed away a few years ago. (He was fond of referring to it as "a stirring piyyut".) Our hazzan and the other members of the octet decided that they didn't want to sing that tune, and I accepted this decision, but I am still nostalgic for that "other" tune. Perhaps one of the primary reasons I am nostalgic for it is that one of my daughters, when she was quite little, started riffing on the tune and repeated on and on and on, "HaYom haYom haYom." My father, may he rest in peace, thought this was very funny and would egg her on.

Now when I ask my daughters if they remember the "other HaYom" tune they give me bored nods of their heads and say "Yeah, we remember, sort of."

Will this tune become one of those tunes that just fades into memory? Are other people singing this tune, in other congregations in New York City, in the United States, in the whole wide world?

This is not a silly question-set. There is a deeper issue here, about memory and tradition and how it changes, fades away, gets revived. Which tunes do we continue to use? Which do we discard? How do they morph over time? Why are they used, discarded, changed around? This is something that Jews face as well as any other religious group, any school, any culture.

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