Tallet corner with the arms of the da Costa family
Historically the tallet was most commonly made of wool or linen, and to this day in many orthodox Ashkenazi and Eastern Sephardi communities, wool remains the fabric of choice, mainly due to an opinion that only these two materials fulfill the original Torah command (others being only a rabbinical addition).
However, in Western Sephardi and Italian communities with access to the silk route luxuriant, lightweight silk tallets became the tradition, as a way of honouring and beautifying the mitzvah.
These silk tallets were often personalized for their owners with elaborately decorated squares at each corner, emphasizing the four fringes.
Rabbi Simon Schwab (1908-95), sion of Hirsch’s “Torah and Derekh Eretz” Community in Frankfurt, and leader of Khal Adath Jeshurun in Washington Heights, USA, composed a moving Elegy on the tragedy of the Holocaust, for inclusion among the others traditionally chanted on the Fast of Av, the saddest day of the Jewish Year.
R. Schwab’s elegy is structured like the well-known kinah “Betseiti Mimitzrayim” (also known by its opening words “Esh Tukad”), and intended to be chanted to the same chant. The S&P chant for “Esh Tukad” also fits the R. Schwab’s kinah well. Continue reading
Historical recordings of a service of thanksgiving held 58 years ago at Bevis Marks Synagogue, London, in celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the resettlement of the Jews in Britain are now available online, and on an inexpensive CD. For more details click here.
Recordings from the service held 50 years later, for the 350th Anniversary, can be heard here.
Of the four species used on Succot, the lowly willow – seen to represent the Jew who has neither learning (aroma) or good deeds (flavour) – is the symbol of the last day of the festival: Hosha’na Rabbah (“the great salvation”). By a similar token, the willow can also be seen to represent the parts of each of us that have been unmoved by the penitential atmosphere of the days of Awe. Hosha’na Rabbah is the time when even the willow finds salvation. Continue reading
The London Sephardi Centre have recently digitized and made available a set of recordings made on four vinyl “singles” in 1951. The choir is led in these recordings by Jacob Hadida, and the soloist is Abraham Beniso.
The eight “sides” (of the four records) are summarized in the cover below, and from the fact that it is entitled “Volume One”, it would seem that further volumes were planned (but apparently never released). Continue reading
On the evening of 26 August the Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem organised a shiur on the topic of the unique S&P custom of Evening Selichot, followed by a choral Evening Service incorporating those selichot. Continue reading
In this six minute podcast I discuss one of the best loved of the S&P New Year melodies: “Et Sha’arey Ratson”, with some thoughts about what makes it so special. Continue reading