בסיעתא דשמיא
Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut)

Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut)

From a family of musicians, Isaac Gantwerk Mayer believes that creative art is one of the most powerful ways to get in touch with the divine. He composes music and poetry in Hebrew and English. (He also translates and authors his own original works.) Isaac runs a Jewish music transcription service, which will transcribe and set any Jewish music in any language, recorded or written. Contact his service on Facebook or via his music blog.

http://isaacwritesaboutmusic.com

הפטרה לחג הפאי | Haftarah for the Festival of Pi, the twenty-second day of the seventh month (which falls on Shmini Atseret), I Kings 7:23-26 and 8:54-66

Contributed on: י״ז בתשרי ה׳תשפ״ב (2021-09-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

Shmini Atseret is a strange festival. In some ways part of Sukkot, in some ways its own thing, it occupies an equivocal place in the yearly cycle. But one thing that is completely true: Shmini Atseret is on Pi Day. Well, Pi Approximation Day — the twenty-second day of the seventh month. Inspired by my friend and math enthusiast Aryeh Baruch (may he have a long life), I’ve compiled this altered form of the haftarah for Shmini Atseret in the diaspora, including the description of King Solomon’s “molten sea,” as well as an Aramaic “reshut” poem with a numeral acrostic of the first few digits of pi. . . .


Haftarah reading for the Second Day of Shavuot (Ḥabaquq 2:20-3:19) with its Targum and the piyyut Yetsiv Pitgam by Rabbeinu Tam (ca. 12th c.)

Contributed on: ד׳ בסיון ה׳תשפ״א (2021-05-15) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Yaaqov ben Meir | Yonatan ben Uziel | the Masoretic Text | Ḥabaquq haNavi |

The haftarah for the second day of Shavuot, Ḥabakkuk 2:20-3:19, interspersed with a cantillated text of the Targum Yonatan ben Uzziel. Since Targum Yonatan is a bit more drash-heavy than Targum Onkelos, it is translated separately as well. The haftarah reading includes the piyyut Yetsiv Pitgam, with an acrostic rhyming translation of the poem, with the second-to-last verse restored to its rightful place, as well as a concluding paragraph for the meturgeman to recite, as found in the Maḥzor Vitry. . . .


וּתְקוֹל | U-tqol of Djerba — a Midrashic Addition to the Haggadah relating the story of Avraham & Nimrod’s Furnace in Judeo-Tunisian Arabic

Contributed on: י׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

The ancient Jewish community of Djerba, an island off the coast of southern Tunisia, has many unique customs and practices. Among them is that during the Maggid, after the citation of Joshua 24:2-4 and before the paragraph beginning “Praise the One who keep faith with the people Israel,” an extensive work in Judeo-Tunisian Arabic is recited, telling the well-known story of Abraham’s realization of divine unity and his ordeal in the oven of fire. Here is a transcript of that text, vocalized according to the original manuscripts, transcribed, and translated into English and modern Hebrew. . . .


אָז רוֹב נִסִּים | Az Rov Nissim, a piyyut by Yanai for the first night of Pesaḥ in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ח׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-20) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Yanai haPayetan |

The piyyut, Omets G’vurotekha by Elazar ha-Qalir, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel. . . .


אוֹמֶץ גְּבוּרוֹתֶיךָ | Omets G’vuratekha, a piyyut by Eleazar ben Qalir for the second night of Pesaḥ in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ח׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-20) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Elazar ben Killir |

The piyyut, Omets G’vurotekha by Elazar ha-Qalir, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel. . . .


פרקי אבות פרק א׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter One, cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ח בשבט ה׳תשע״ט (2019-02-03) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Paltiel Birnbaum (translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

Chapter 1 of Pirqei Avot (Fundamental Principles [of Rabbinic Judaism]) with cantillation and English translation. . . .


מְגִילַּת הִיטְלֶיר | Megillat Hitler, a Purim Sheni scroll for French Armistice Day by Asher P. Ḥassine (Casablanca, 1944)

Contributed on: י״ב בתמוז ה׳תשפ״א (2021-06-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Asher Ḥassine |

A megillah attesting to the terrible events of World War II from the vantage of North African Jewry in Casablanca. . . .


מַא כְׄבַּר הַדִׄה | Ma Khəbar Hādhih, a Yemenite Judeo-Arabic Elaboration on the Four Questions

Contributed on: ד׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-16) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

In Yemenite practice, directly after the four questions are recited the youngest literate person at the table reads a brief Judeo-Arabic passage, here transcribed per the Yemenite transliteration system (wherein gimel dagesh = j and qof = g) and translated into Arabic and Hebrew. Instructional notes say this passage is “for the benefit of women and toddlers,” the two main classes of people who would have not had access to Hebrew education at the time. . . .


A Letter of Passover Instruction, from the Judean Garrison of Elephantine/Yeb (TAD A4.1)

Contributed on: א׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-14) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

This letter, written in Imperial Aramaic in 419 BCE, is among the vast number of papyrus letters found in Elephantine, also known as Yeb. The Jewish (or more accurately, Judean) community of Yeb is a fascinating bit of history — a group of Judean mercenaries who settled in Egypt and built their own smaller temple! Although their origin was clearly Judean, and they referred to themselves as the ḥeila yehudaya = Judean garrison, their form of worship featured no Deuteronomic centralization, no discussion of the patriarchs, and questionable monotheism! Although the primary deity was YHW (note the difference in spelling), multiple other deities or hypostatized aspects of divinity were worshipped, and verbs for the word “God” are conjugated in the plural rather than the singular. This text is one of a series of letters written between the brothers Yedaniah and Ḥananiah. In this case, it is giving instructions for keeping the holiday of Pesaḥ. These instructions are interesting in their own right — the prohibition on beer could alternatively be read as a prohibition on any alcoholic drink, which would align with Karaite practice rather than rabbinic. But what’s even more interesting is what isn’t mentioned — the instructions given mention nothing whatsoever about the exodus from Egypt, or even God! The diktat to observe the holiday is accredited not to God or Moses, but to Darius, king of the Achaemenid Empire! This passage is a fascinating taste of a part of Judaism that we know very little about. Vocalization according to Tiberian norms and translation into English by the translator. . . .


A Hebrew Reconstruction of Psalms 152 and 153, edited, vocalized, cantillated, and translated into English by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ד במרחשון ה׳תשפ״א (2020-10-31) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

Unlike Psalms 151, 154, and 155, the apocryphal psalms 152 and 153 were not found in the Judean Desert scrolls, but only in the Syriac psalter. It is thus somewhat uncertain if they were actually ever written in Hebrew or in Aramaic. But their language and content is in keeping with other late apocryphal psalms, so it seems very possible that they were of Hebrew origin. These reconstructed Hebrew texts are largely based on the work of Professor Emeritus Herrie (H. F.) van Rooy,[1] an expert in the Syriac psalter, also factoring in some input from the work of J. A. Sanders.[2] Psalms 152 and 153 are included together here because they are framed by the ascriptions as a pair — the former being David’s prayer before going against the wild beasts (see I Samuel 17:34-36), and the latter being David’s thanksgiving afterwards . . .


אַרְעָא רַקְדָא | Ar’a Raqda (And the Earth Danced), a piyyut in Aramaic for introducing the Decalogue as read in the Targum

Contributed on: כ׳ באייר ה׳תשפ״א (2021-05-02) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

“Ar’a Raqda,” a piyyut read directly before the Ten Commandments in the Targum, uses wedding imagery and language from the Shir haShirim to paint Sinai as a ḥuppah. . . .


מזמור לציון | Apostrophe to Zion, according to the Nusaḥ of the Judean Desert Scrolls

Contributed on: י״ג באב ה׳תש״פ (2020-08-03) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

The Apostrophe to Zion is an alphabetical acrostic poem, directed at Zion in the second person. It has been found in multiple locations in Qumran, including the Great Psalms Scroll 11QPsa as well as another fragmentary scroll in 4Q88. It was considered a regular part of their psalmodic canon. . . .


אֲנָא אַתְקֵינִית | Ana Atqenit (I am the one), a piyyut in Aramaic for introducing the first commandment as read in the Targum

Contributed on: כ׳ באייר ה׳תשפ״א (2021-05-02) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

Ana is a poem for the first commandment, that discusses all that God did for the ancestors. . . .


תרומה הבדילנו | T’rumah Hivdilanu (A Gift Distinguished Us) — A Poetic Ḳiddush for the Pesaḥ Seder, according to two of its nusḥaot (ca. 9th c.)

Contributed on: ה׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-17) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

Rav Saadia Gaon lists three additions to the Seder Pesaḥ which he considers not necessary, but acceptable. This is the first, a poetic version of the Kiddush. Interestingly enough, it is still recited in many Yemenite communities, which are in general less likely to incorporate poetic sections to their liturgy. Here it is recorded and translated into English according to two nusḥaot — that recorded in the siddur of Rav Saadia (marked in blue), and that recorded in modern Yemenite texts (marked in red). In cases where only the spelling differs rather than the meaning, the editor generally went with Rav Saadia as the older variant. . . .


ספר ברוך | Sefer Barukh (1:1-3:8), from the Reconstructed Hebrew Vorlage by Prof. Emmanuel Tov, vocalized and cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ב בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-07-14) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Jospeh Ziegler (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Emmanuel Tov (Hebrew reconstruction) | Septuagint (translation/Greek) | Barukh ben Neriyah |

The book of Barukh (also, Baruch and Barouch) in its reconstructed Hebrew vorlage from verse 1:1 till 3:8. . . .


ילקוט מזמורים לבן סירא פרק נ״א | An Appendix of Psalms of Ben Sira chapter 51, vocalized, cantillated, and translated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״א בסיון ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-03) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Shimon ben Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira |

The end of the scroll of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus) reconstructed from Cairo Geniza fragments not contained within the Septuagint. . . .


סדר מימונה | Seder Mimounah

Contributed on: כ״ג בניסן ה׳תש״פ (2020-04-16) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

A Mimouna packet including havdalah, a Moroccan-rite birkat ha-ilanot, traditional study texts, and yehiretzonot. . . .


אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵֽינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה | “Said our Sages of Blessed Memory” — a Midrashic Addition to the Extrapolation of the First Fruits

Contributed on: ד׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-16) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

In many eastern communities, including the communities of Aleppo and Yemen as well as the haggadah of Ḥakham Ovadia Yosef, this text is added to the extrapolation of the First Fruits declaration found in the Pesaḥ Maggid. Specifically, it is found after the citation of Exodus 12:12, specifically within or after the passage concluding “…who is Me and there is no other.” . . .


דַּיֵּנוּ | Daiyenu, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-21) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The piyyut, Dayenu, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel. . . .


בִּרְכַּת הָאִילָנוֹת | The Blessing of Flowering Fruit Trees in the Spring Season

Contributed on: ב׳ בניסן ה׳תשע״א (2011-04-05) by Aharon N. Varady (translation) | Jacob Chatinover (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | David Seidenberg | Unknown Author(s) |

When the spring (Aviv) season arrives, a blessing is traditionally said when one is in view of at least two flowering fruit trees. In the northern hemisphere, it can be said anytime through the end of the month of Nissan (though it can still be said in Iyar). For those who live in the southern hemisphere, the blessing can be said during the month of Tishrei. . . .


הגדה של פסח | Pesaḥ Haggadah (Nusaḥ Erets Yisrael), based on multiple Cairo Geniza manuscripts compiled and translated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ג באדר ה׳תש״פ (2020-03-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

This is a vocalized reconstruction, arrangement and translation of the Haggadah according to the ancient Land of Israel rite, based on multiple manuscripts from the Cairo Geniza, including Halper 211 and T-S H2.152, with additional input from the Italian rite and customs recorded by Rav Saadia Gaon. It is translated in gender-neutral Hebrew. . . .


מְגִלַּת פִּסְגָּה | Megillat Fustat, a Purim Sheni legend for the 28th of Adar translated and cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט״ו באדר ה׳תש״פ (2020-03-11) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

Behold, a full text of the Megillah of Fustat, telling a story of a great miracle that happened in 1524 CE (5284 AM). . . .


The Rainbow Haftarah by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1993)

Contributed on: כ״ח בתשרי ה׳תשע״ה (2014-10-22) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Jack Kessler (trōpification) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Zalman Schachter-Shalomi | Arthur Waskow | Elat Chayyim Center for Jewish Spirituality | the Shalom Center |

A declaration in 1993 by Rabbi Arthur Waskow in response to the impending danger of global warming and other ecotastrophes brought about by the callous harm of human industry and land use decisions. Translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. . . .


נִשְׁמַת כָּל חַי | Nishmat Kol Ḥai, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-21) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the prayer Nishmat Kol Ḥai in Hebrew with a Latin translation . . .


הָאֵל בְּתַעֲצֻמוֹת עֻזֶּךָ | ha-El b’Taatsumōt Uzekha, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-21) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the short prayer ha-El b’Taatsumōt Uzekha in Hebrew with a Latin translation. . . .


שׁוֹכֵן עַד | Shokhen Âd, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-21) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the short prayer Shokhen Ad in Hebrew with a Latin translation. . . .


וּבְמַקְהֲלוֹת | uv’Maqhalōt, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-21) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the short prayer uv’Maqhalōt in Hebrew with a Latin translation. . . .


מְגִילַּת יְהוּדִית לְאָמְרָהּ בַּחֲנֻכָּה | Megillat Yehudit, the Medieval Scroll of Judith to be said on Ḥanukkah

Contributed on: כ״ח בתמוז ה׳תשע״ו (2016-08-03) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Susan Weingarten (translation) | Moshe Shmi'el Dascola | Unknown Author(s) |

This is a faithful transcription of the text of the medieval Megillat Yehudith (the Scroll of Judith), not to be confused with the deutero-canonical Book of Judith, authored in Antiquity. We have further set this text side-by-side with the English translation made by Susan Weingarten, and vocalized and cantillated the Hebrew so that it may be chanted. . . .


אֶזְכְּרָה מָצוֹק | Ezkerah Matsōk (“I remember the distress”), a seliḥah for the Fast of Tevet attributed to Joseph ben Samuel Bonfils (11th c.)

Contributed on: ט׳ בטבת ה׳תש״פ (2020-01-05) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | David Asher (translation) | Joseph ben Samuel Bonfils |

“Ezkera Matsok” (I remember the distress) is a seliḥah in alphabetic acrostic recited on the Fast of Tevet in the Ashkenazi nusaḥ minhag Polin. . . .


מִדְרַשׁ מַעֲשֶׂה חֲנֻכָּה ב׳ | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah “bet,” a retelling of Megillat Antiokhus as Midrash Aggadah

Contributed on: כ״ב בכסלו ה׳תש״פ (2019-12-19) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

A retelling of the story found in Megillat Antiokhus as midrash aggadah. . . .


הגדה לסדר פסח | The Passover Seder Haggadah, tropified by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשע״ט (2019-04-14) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

A version of the Pesaḥ Haggadah with full cantillation. . . .


מִדְרַשׁ מַעֲשֶׂה חֲנֻכָּה א׳ | Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah “alef,” a tale of the people’s resistance to the Seleucid Greek occupation

Contributed on: כ״ה בכסלו ה׳תשע״ו (2015-12-06) by Anat Hochberg (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Unknown Author(s) |

This digital edition of Midrash Ma’aseh Ḥanukkah was transcribed from the print edition published in Otzar Hamidrashim (I. D. Eisenstein, New York: Eisenstein Press, 5675/1915, p.189-190). With much gratitude to Anat Hochberg, this is the first translation of this midrash into English. . . .


בן סירא מב:כא-מג:לא | ben Sira 42:21-43:31, a hymn of creation translated by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan

Contributed on: ט׳ באב ה׳תשע״ח (2018-07-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Mordecai Kaplan | Shimon ben Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira |

Ecclesiasticus (ben Sira) 42:21-43:31 is presented as “God the Lord of Nature” in The Sabbath Prayer Book of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (The Reconstructionist Foundation 1945), p. 376-372 in the Supplements subsection, “God in Nature.” The text of Ben Sira used here differs in places found in other manuscripts. . . .


ברכת המזון השלם עם טעמי מקרא | Full Birkat haMazon with Ta’amei haMiqra (cantillation), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz)

Contributed on: ט״ז בתמוז ה׳תשע״ח (2018-06-28) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Unknown Author(s) |

The full Birkat haMazon (or Grace after Meals) according to Nusach Ashkenaz with optional additions for egalitarian rites, fully marked with ta’amei miqra (also known as cantillation marks or trope). Ta’amei miqra originally marked grammar and divisions in any Hebrew sentences, and older Hebrew manuscripts such as those from the Cairo Geniza often show ta’amei miqra on all sorts of texts, not just the Biblical texts we associate them with today. This text includes the full tradition for Birkat haMazon, including texts for weekdays, Shabbatot, and festivals, as well as additions for a wedding meal, a circumcision meal, and a meal in a mourner’s house. . . .


יִשְׁתַּבַּח שִׁמְךָ | Yishtabaḥ Shimkha, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ט׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-21) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the prayer Yishtabaḥ Shimkha, in Hebrew with a Latin translation . . .


מזמור לבן סירא על זכות אבותינו (פרקים מד-נ)‏ | Paean of Ben Sira on the Merit of the Ancestors (ch. 44-50), vocalized and cantillated with the Poetic Masoretic System by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ז באייר ה׳תש״פ (2020-05-20) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Shimon ben Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira |

The poem lauding the ancestors from Chapters 44 to 50 of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus) is considered by many scholars to be the original influence for the Yom Kippur Avodah service, and the paean to Shimon the Righteous bears a striking similarity to the beloved piyyut “Mar’eh Khohen.” This passage from Ben Sira, the great paean on the merit of the ancestors, takes the Hebrew text of one of the Cairo Geniza manuscripts — Bodleian MS Heb e62 — and versifies it according to the standard Septuagintal text, along with vocalization and cantillation per the standard Masoretic EMe”T system for poetic books. It could be read on Yom Kippur for the avodah service, or just studied as a fascinating piece of Jewish history. . . .


העמידה לימות החל עם טעמי המקרא‎ | Weekday Amidah and Ḳaddish with Ta’amei haMiqra (cantillation), by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (Nusaḥ Ashkenaz)

Contributed on: ה׳ בתמוז ה׳תשע״ח (2018-06-17) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Paltiel Birnbaum (translation) |

The full Weekday Amidah (or Eighteen Blessings), according to Nusach Ashkenaz with optional additions for egalitarian rites or for within Israel, fully marked with ta’amei miqra (also known as cantillation marks or trope). Ta’amei miqra originally marked grammar and divisions in any Hebrew sentences, and older Hebrew manuscripts such as those from the Cairo Geniza often show ta’amei miqra on all sorts of texts, not just the Biblical texts we associate them with today. This text has the Eighteen Blessings (which number nineteen) of the weekday Amidah, and is suitable to use as a text for any standard weekday service. Note: this does not include any of the pre- or post-Amidah texts, such as Ashrei, Kriyat Shema, Tachanun, or Aleinu. It also doesn’t include additions for festivals, fast days, or the Days of Repentance. Those may be coming in the future, though! . . .


סדר לקריאת מגילת העצמאות | Reading of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel for Yom ha-Atsma’ut (1948)

Contributed on: כ״ט בניסן ה׳תשע״ז (2017-04-25) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon Zisling | Moshe Sharett | Yehuda Leib Maimon | David ben Gurion | Pinchas Rosen | Zvi Eli Baker | Uri Yadin | Zvi Berenson | Mordechai Beham |

Jews have read sacred texts to commemorate miracles of redemption for a long time. Purim has Megilat Esther. Many communities read Megilat Antiochus or Megilat Yehudit for Ḥanukkah. But to many modern Jews, the most miraculous redemption in recent history was the founding of the state of Israel, as we commemorate on Yom ha-Atsma’ut. Like Purim, the story of the founding of Israel was entirely secular on a surface level, with no big showy miracles like a sea splitting or a mountain aflame. Like Ḥanukkah, a Jewish state in the Land of Israel won its independence against mighty forces allied in opposition. But we don’t have a megillah to read for Yom ha-Atsma’ut. Or do we? Just as Megillat Esther is said to be a letter written by Mordekhai to raise awareness of the events of Shushan, so too does the Israeli Scroll of Independence, Megilat ha-Atsma’ut, raise awareness of the events of the founding of the State of Israel. In this vein, I decided to create a cantillation system for Megilat ha-Atsma’ut. Ta’amei miqra were chosen attempting to follow Masoretic grammatical rules – since modern Hebrew has a different grammatical structure, the form is somewhat loose. Because of the thematic similarities to Purim, I chose Esther cantillation for the majority of the text. Just as some tragic lines in Esther are read in Eikhah cantillation, some lines regarding the Shoah or bearing grim portents for the wars to follow are to be sung in Eikhah cantillation. And the final phrases of chapters II and III are to be sung in the melody for the end of a book of the Ḥumash, or the Song of the Sea melody. They can be done in a call-and-response form, with the community reading and the reader repeating. . . .


אֱמוּנִים עִרְכוּ שֶֽׁבַח | Emunim ʿIrkhu Shevaḥ — a Poetic Addition to Rabban Gamliel’s List

Contributed on: ד׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-16) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

Emunim ʿIrkhu Shevaḥ is a brief piyyut recited in North African communities in Rabban Gamliel’s list, between Pesaḥ and Maror. It spells out “Aaron the Priest” as an alphabetical acrostic, but it is uncertain whether this is an authorial signature or a mystical reference to the Biblical figure. . . .


מגילת אנטיוכס עם טעמי מקרא | Megillat Antiokhus, with ta’amei miqra (for cantillation) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: ט׳ באב ה׳תשע״ח (2018-07-21) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Tsvi Hirsch Filipowski (translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

Perhaps Megillat Antiokhus could be read a la Esther on Purim (the holiday with the most similarities), going to Eicha trope in the upsetting parts. A few notes: on the final mention of Bagris the Wicked I included a karnei-farah in the manner of the karnei-farah in Esther. I also included a merkha kefulah in the concluding section, which (according to David Weisberg’s “The Rare Accents of the Twenty-Eight Books”) represents aggadic midrash material. It also serves as a connection to the Chanukah haftarah, which is famously the only one that has a merkha kefulah. –Isaac Mayer . . .


ברכת המזון לשבועות ‬| Birkat haMazon for Shavuot, according to the Cairo Geniza fragment ‫T-S H6.37 vocalized and translated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ט באייר ה׳תש״פ (2020-05-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

A Birkat haMazon for Shavuot presenting an alphabetic acrostic from a manuscript preserved in the Cairo Geniza. . . .


מְגִילַּת אַנטְיוּכַס | Megilat Antiokhos — in the original Aramaic, cantillated according to the British Library manuscript Or 5866

Contributed on: ו׳ בטבת ה׳תשפ״א (2020-12-20) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Tsvi Hirsch Filipowski (translation) |

This is a direct transcription, including cantillation and non-standard vocalizations, of the cantillated Megilat Antiokhos found in the British Library manuscript Or 5866, folios 105v-110r. . . .


קרובות לראש שנה לאילנות | Ḳerovot for Tu biShvat, by Yehudah ben R’ Hillel haLevi (ca. 11th c.)

Contributed on: י״ח בטבת ה׳תשפ״א (2021-01-02) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Yehudah ben Hillel haLevi |

Ḳerovot for Tu biShvat, a celebration of Divine verdancy, which namedrops a stunning array of flora from throughout the land of Israel. . . .


פרקי אבות פרק ב׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter Two, cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: א׳ בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Paltiel Birnbaum (translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

Chapter 2 of Pirqei Avot (Fundamental Principles [of Rabbinic Judaism]) with cantillation and English translation. . . .


פרקי אבות פרק ג׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter Three, cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: א׳ בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Paltiel Birnbaum (translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

Chapter 3 of Pirqei Avot (Fundamental Principles [of Rabbinic Judaism]) with cantillation and English translation. . . .


פרקי אבות פרק ד׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter Four, cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: א׳ בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Paltiel Birnbaum (translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

Chapter 4 of Pirqei Avot (Fundamental Principles [of Rabbinic Judaism]) with cantillation and English translation. . . .


פרקי אבות פרק ה׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter Five, cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: א׳ בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Paltiel Birnbaum (translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

Chapter 5 of Pirqei Avot (Fundamental Principles [of Rabbinic Judaism]) with cantillation and English translation. . . .


פרקי אבות פרק ו׳ | Pirqei Avot: Chapter Six, cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: א׳ בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-23) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Paltiel Birnbaum (translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

Chapter 6 of Pirqei Avot (Fundamental Principles [of Rabbinic Judaism]) with cantillation and English translation. . . .


מְגִלַּת שַׂאֲרָגוֹשָׂה | Megillat Saragossa, a Purim Sheni legend for the 17th of Shevat translated and cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: י״ד באדר א׳ ה׳תשע״ט (2019-02-18) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

The Megillat Saragossa, also known as the Megillat Syracusa, in Hebrew and English, to be read on the 17th of Sh’vat. . . .


סדר אל־תוחיד | Seder al-Tawḥid for Rosh Ḥodesh Nissan

Contributed on: כ״ז באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ט (2019-04-03) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) |

The project page for the transcription and translation of the Seder al-Tawḥid for Rosh Ḥodesh Nissan. . . .


אַדִּיר בִּמְלוּכָה | Adir Bimlukhah, a Latin translation of the piyyut by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ח׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-20) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the popular piyyut “Adir Bimlukhah” (a/k/a “Ki lo na’eh”) in Hebrew, with a Latin translation. . . .


אַדִּיר הוּא | Adir Hu, the acrostic piyyut in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ח׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-20) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The alphabetic acrostic piyyut, Adir Hu, in its Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel as found in his translation of the Pesaḥ seder haggadah, Liber Rituum Paschalium (1644). . . .


און קאבﬞריטיקו | Un Kavritiko :: a Judezmo (Ladino) Translation of Ḥad Gadya

Contributed on: י״ב בניסן ה׳תשע״ט (2019-04-16) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Unknown Author(s) |

A Judezmo/Ladino translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .


יַאן יִכְּרוּ | Yan ikru :: a Judeo-Berber Translation of Ḥad Gadya

Contributed on: י״ג בניסן ה׳תשע״ט (2019-04-17) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Unknown Author(s) |

A Judeo-Berber translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .


ואחד גׄדי | Waaḥid Jady :: a Judeo-Arabic Translation of Ḥad Gadya

Contributed on: י״ב בניסן ה׳תשע״ט (2019-04-16) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Unknown Author(s) |

A Judeo-Arabic translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .


חַד גַּדְיָא | Ḥad Gadya, a Latin translation by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ח׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-20) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

A Latin translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .


בִּיר אוּלָק | Бир Улакъ | Bir Ulaq :: a Qrımçah tılyı (Krymchak) translation of Ḥad Gadya by Rabbi Nisim haLevy Tsahtsir (1904)

Contributed on: ה׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-17) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Nisim haLevy Tsahtsir | Unknown Author(s) |

A Judeo-Tajik translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .


יַכֵּי בּוּזְגָאלַה | Йаке бузғола | Yake Buzghola :: a Judeo-Tajik Translation of Ḥad Gadya by Rabbi Shimon ben Eliyahu Hakham (1904)

Contributed on: כ״ו בניסן ה׳תשע״ט (2019-04-30) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Shimon ben Eliyahu Hakham | Unknown Author(s) |

A Judeo-Tajik translation of the popular Passover song, Ḥad Gadya. . . .


אֶחָד מִי יוֹדֵעַ | Eḥad Mi Yode’a, a Latin translation of the counting song by Johann Stephan Rittangel (1644)

Contributed on: ח׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-20) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Johann Stephan Rittangel (Latin translation) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the popular counting song “Who Knows One?” in its original Hebrew, with a translation in Latin. . . .


חַד מָה יוּדָא | Ḥad Mah Yuda :: Who Knows One?, a counting-song in Aramaic translation

Contributed on: א׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ט (2019-05-05) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Unknown Author(s) |

The text of the popular Passover song “Who Knows One?” in Hebrew set side-by-side with an Aramaic translation. . . .


כִּי בְּהַרְאָיָה הַשֵּׁנִית | The Second Inaugural Address of President Abraham Lincoln on 4 March 1865

Contributed on: ט״ז בשבט ה׳תש״פ (2020-02-11) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Abraham Lincoln |

The second inaugural address of President Abraham Lincoln in English with a cantillized Hebrew translation suitable for chanting. . . .


הַצְהָרַת הָאֵמַנְצִיפַּצְיָה | The Emancipation Proclamation (1863), translated, vocalized and cantillated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: כ״ח בסיון ה׳תש״פ (2020-06-19) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Abraham Lincoln |

In honor of Juneteenth, the holiday of American liberation, this is a translation of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation into Biblical Hebrew. . . .


סֵפֶר חֲנוֹךְ | The Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 83-90), with Aramaic Fragments and translations in Ge’ez and English

Contributed on: ד׳ בכסלו ה׳תשפ״א (2020-11-19) by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Robert Henry Charles (translation) |

A mytho-historical chronicle of the story of humanity and Israel up until the Maccabean revolt depicted as a fable through a dream vision of Ḥanokh. . . .


שַׁאֲלִי שְׂרוּפָה בָּאֵשׁ | Sha’ali Serufah ba-Esh (Question, Burnt in the Fire), a Ḳinah for Tisha b’Av, Translated by Gershom Scholem

Contributed on: כ״ט בתמוז ה׳תש״פ (2020-07-20) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Paula Schwebel (translation) | Gershom Scholem (translation) | Meir ben Barukh of Rothenburg |

A translation in German and English of the kinnah “Sha’ali Serufah ba-Esh.” . . .


שריך לינקאלען | Memorial Prayer for Abraham Lincoln, by Isaac Goldstein haLevi (1865)

Contributed on: י״ח בשבט ה׳תשע״ב (2012-02-11) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Abe Katz (translation) | Isaac Goldstein |

Exalted are you Lincoln. Who is like you! You were highly respected among Kings and Princes. All that you accomplished you did with a humble spirit. You are singular and cannot be compared to anyone else. Who among the great are like Lincoln? Who can be praised like you? . . .


קרובות לתשעה באב | Ḳerovot for Tishah b’Av, by Elazar ben Kilir (ca. 7th c.)

Contributed on: כ״ג בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-04-04) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Elazar ben Killir |

Many communities recite a series of poems interwoven with the Amidah on Purim. These poems, known as the “krovets,” were written by Elazar b. Rabbi Kalir, the greatest of the early paytanim. But lesser known than the krovets for Purim are the krovets for Tisha b’Av, written as well by Elazar b. Rabbi Kalir. A fine example of Elazar’s intricate poetry, the krovets for Tisha b’Av is rife with Biblical citations, finally culminating with the prayer for Jerusalem. Each stanza begins with five tightly rhymed lines beginning with a constant א followed by a quintuple half-acrostic on the second letter, then a poetic volta on the word אֵיכָה, followed by a Biblical citation, a verse starting with the last word in the citation, a letter from Elazar’s name, and a final Biblical citation. The krovets for Tisha b’Av is meant to be part of the morning service, tied into the cantorial repetition for Tisha b’Av. . . .


אתה גאלת | Atah Ga’alta (You Redeemed Our Ancestors), a Poetic Rendition of the Blessing of Redemption in the Pesaḥ Seder (ca. 9th c.)

Contributed on: ה׳ בניסן ה׳תשפ״א (2021-03-17) by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) |

Rav Saadia Gaon lists three additions to the Seder Pesaḥ which he considers not necessary, but acceptable. This is the third, a poetic insert of the blessing of redemption known as Ata Ga’alta. In the form of an alphabetical acrostic, this poem is still recited in many eastern communities including the Babylonians, Persians, and Yemenites, and was a feature of the the old Kaifeng rite. Here it is recorded and translated into English according to the nusaḥ of Saadia Gaon, with notes in several locations for additional phrases used in some customs. . . .



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