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Mordecai ben Yitsḥok ha-Levi

Mordechai Ben Yitsḥak haLevy was a 13th century rabbi and liturgical poet who emigrated from Iraq to Mainz in Germany. There, hiding in the Jewish quarter with the rest of the Jewish community of Mainz, he witnessed the terrible massacres of the Crusaders. Authorship of the popular piyyut for Ḥanukkah, Maoz Tsur, is often attributed to him on the basis of the acrostic, מרדכי found in it.

מָעוֹז צוּר | Maoz Tsur, attributed to Mordecai ben Yitsḥak haLevi (adapted by R’ Joseph H. Hertz, trans. by Solomon Solis-Cohen)

Contributed on: 14 Dec 2017 by Solomon da Silva Solis-Cohen (translation) | Joseph Herman Hertz | Mordecai ben Yitsḥok ha-Levi |

Maoz Tsur as translated by Dr. Solomon Solis-Cohen, with Hebrew adapted in the first stanza by Joseph Herman Hertz, chief rabbi of the British Empire. . . .


מָעוֹז צוּר | Maoz Tsur (Rock of Ages), singing translation by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l

Contributed on: 04 Dec 2015 by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi | Mordecai ben Yitsḥok ha-Levi |

A singing translation of the popular piyyut (devotional poem), “Maoz Tzur,” by Reb Zalman for Ḥanukkah. . . .


מָעוֹז צוּר | Maoz Tsur (Stronghold Rock who Rescues Me), complete poetic translation by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: 20 Dec 2022 by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Mordecai ben Yitsḥok ha-Levi |

A complete poetic translation (all six verses) of Maoz Tsur. As far as the editor knows this is the first translation of Maoz Tsur to both (a) cover all the verses relatively accurately and (b) preserve the strict ABAB-BBCCB rhyme scheme of the original. (Reb Zalman’s comes close but it goes ABAB-CCDDC instead). If it sounds violent, that’s because it *is* violent. Ḥanukkah is a holiday about actively fighting against assimilation and abuse. A lot of Maoz Tsur translations are censored, but it’s a powerful, loud, and even nationalist statement. . . .


מָעוֹז צוּר | Maoz Tsur (trans. by Frederick de Sola Mendes 1914)

Contributed on: 29 Nov 2021 by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Frederick de Sola Mendes | Mordecai ben Yitsḥok ha-Levi |

A singable translation of Maoz Tsur by the great ḥakham Frederick de Sola Mendes, here transcribed from the Union Hymnal (CCAR 1914), hymn 190. The translation largely reflects the Hebrew, omitting two verses — the final (and according to some, last added) verse, and the fourth verse about Purim and Haman. . . .


מָעוֹז צוּר | Maoz Tsur for Yom ha-Atsma’ut, a complete poetic translation with an added stanza for the State of Israel’s Independence Day by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Contributed on: 17 Apr 2023 by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) | Mordecai ben Yitsḥok ha-Levi | Isaac Gantwerk Mayer |

This is a complete poetic rhyming translation of Maoz Tsur with all six of its stanzas including a seventh, final stanza written by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer specifically for Yom ha-Atsmau’ut. . . .


מָעוֹז צוּר | Schirm und Schutz in Sturm und Graus, a German translation of Maoz Tsur by Leopold Stein (1906)

Contributed on: 29 Nov 2021 by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (transcription & naqdanut) | Leopold Stein | Mordecai ben Yitsḥok ha-Levi |

A German translation of Maoz Tsur, by the early Reform rabbi Leopold Stein. This singable German translation was cited as an inspiration for Gustav Gottheil and Marcus Jastrow’s well-known English edition. In some communities in the German Empire, for instance the community of Beuthen (now Bytom, Poland), it was recited during the morning service on Ḥanukkah. It poetically translates the first five verses in their entirety, avoiding the controversial sixth verse (said by some to have been added post-facto, and rejected by the early Reform movement). . . .



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