Photo by Al & Penny Moses
Traditions of Biblical Cantillation, Vol 1 is an audio cassette of
selections from the Bible (Tanakh, in Hebrew), chanted, in Hebrew, by Helen Chuckrow.
It contains the following:
The cassette is $12, which includes tax and postage.
To obtain the cassette, send a check or money order, payable to Mafseek
PO Box 178
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
Special Note: If both Volume 1 and Volume 2 are ordered the total price is $36.
The Bible has been chanted by the Jewish people for thousands of years. Since the dispersion of the Jews throughout the world, different traditions of biblical cantillation have emerged, influenced by music of the surrounding cultures. The tradition of the Eastern European Jews (the Ashkenazi tradition) is the one used here, except for the reading from 2 Kings, which is done to the Spanish Sephardic tradition.
- Genesis 21:1-21 is read on the first day of Rosh Hashannah, using a festive High Holiday chant. It is the story of Isaac's birth and the wrenching tale of Hagar's banishment to the desert.
- Ecclesiastes 3. Kohelet (the Hebrew name for this book) is read on the Sabbath during the holiday of Succot, using the same chant used for Ruth and Song of Songs. "There is a time for everything," and "All is vanity" are the themes of Kohelet.
- 2 Kings 4:1-23 is the beautiful story of how Elisha brings a young boy back from death. It is chanted, here, to the Spanish Sephardic tune used when reading from the prophets. [I do not actually get to the part where Elisha brings the boy back from death because the Sephardim traditionally end this selection before that point in the story. Since I chant it to the Sephardic tradition, I stop at the point where the Shunammite woman is about to go and get Elisha to right the sad situation of her son's untimely death, which is the traditional Sephardic stopping point when this selection from Prophets is read in synagogue]
- Genesis 43:1-15 tells how Joseph's brothers persuade their father, Israel, to let them return to Egypt in order to buy food from "that man" who, it turns out, is Joseph! It is chanted to the Torah melody.
- Exodus 15:1-19 is the triumphal account of the crossing of the Red Sea. It is chanted to a special, triumphal tune.
- Esther 3. The scroll of Esther is chanted on Purim, to the Esther chant. Chapter three introduces the villainous Haman.
- Song of Songs 5. This book of the Bible is heard in synagogue during Passover, the springtime holiday. It is a love song.
- Ruth 4. We read Ruth during Shavuot, a harvest holiday. Here, in chapter 4, Boaz claims Ruth as his own, and she, a Moabite who embraces Judaism, is then a link to King David, from whom, according to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will come; may he come speedily!
- Isaiah 1:1-27 is read just before the sad holiday of Tisha B'Av, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple. It is done to the "weeping" chant of Tisha B'Av, except for the first and last verses, and the more upbeat verses, 18 and 19, which are chanted to the regular tune used to read the prophets.
Production engineer: Scott Cohen
Special thanks to Rabbi Steven Kane and Cantor Jeffrey Shiovitz, Rahel Musleah, Ruth Seldin, Dvora Yanow, Moshe Denburg, and friends and family for encouragement, and to Raphaela, who envisioned it.
Main Page | Volume Two | About Helen Chuckrow