On a song and a prayer

"Taking an improvisation spot in music, when you don’t really know where it will lead you, demands faith. Of course, it’s the same with religion"

March 9, 2017 10:51
Shlomi Shaban

Shlomi Shaban. (photo credit: LIOR ROTSTEIN)

The reciting and chanting of Jewish liturgical poems – or piyutim – was, for many years, a sort of cloistered ritual that took place mainly within the synagogue walls. Prayers and poems in song form have been chanted for over a millennium, with possibly the best-known work from the genre being “Adon Olam,” probably from sometime in the Middle Ages.

In recent years, the piyut has been thrust into the wider cultural limelight through such innovative vehicles as the Piyut Festival, which has been taking place annually at Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem for the last 10 years. Tel Aviv also got in on the act seven years ago, with its own Zman Piyut – Piyut Time – festival, the latest edition of which will be held at the Tel Aviv Museum from March 14 to 21.


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