This acrostic poetic form of Birkat haMazon was written for the se’udah mafseqet (pre-fast meal) before Yom Kippur, in the manner of the poetic Birkat haMazon variants recorded in the Cairo Geniza. . . .
This is a poetic text for Birkat haMazon, signed with an alphabetical acrostic and the name of the author, to be recited on the first of Elul. It celebrates the variety of God’s creation as exemplified by the natural diversity of species, as well as alluding to the livestock tithes traditionally assigned on the first of Elul. . . .
A piyyut for an under-recognized holiday, Pesaḥ Sheni, the festival of second chances (as described in Numbers 9:6-13 and Mishnah Pesaḥim 9:1-3. I attempted to write this in the manner of a traditional piyyut. The meter is equivalent to the Shabbat zamir “Ot Hi l’Olmei Ad.” The Hebrew spells out Yod – Tzadi – Ḥet – Kuf, because that’s my name. The translation is original, along with the notes. . . .
This is one of my favourite Sukkot piyyutim, not least because of the wonderful and easily singable call-and-response melody! The seven verses each highlight one of the seven traditional ushpizin [mythic guests], and a few years ago I wrote an additional seven verses for the seven female ushpizata according to the order of Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org). . . .
This translation by Rabbi David Aaron de Sola of “Elohim Yisadenu” by a paytan named Avraham (possibly Avraham ibn Ezra) was first published in his Ancient Melodies of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews (1857). . . .
“Zweites Gebet vor Neïla” is an abridged, adapted translation by Yehoshua Heshil Miro of the piyyut by Yehudah haLevi “Barkhi Nafshi et Adonai.” There are seven stanzas missing near the end including the final stanza and a portion of the penultimate stanza. The translation was published in Miro’s anthology of teḥinot, בית יעקב (Beit Yaaqov) Allgemeines Gebetbuch für gebildete Frauen mosaicher Religion. It first appears in the 1835 edition, as teḥinah №48 pp. 83-85. In the 1842 edition, it appears as teḥinah №50 on pp. 86-90. . . .
Yah Hatsel Yonah is a traditional piyyut for Ḥanukkah, of unknown origin (although it spells out the name Yehuda as an acrostic). Beloved in Iraqi Jewish circles, it discusses the hope that Israel, likened to a dove, will be able to celebrate Ḥanukkah during a time of true redemption. Included is a relatively literal (but de-gendered) translation, as well as a poetic singable one. . . .
This seliḥah, “Moshel ba-Elyonim Atah Yadata,” was written by Rabbi Mosheh ben Yeshayah Menaḥem Bachrach during an epidemic. It is included in the Seliḥot of Posen, Krakow, Prague, Worms, and Alsace. The text here was transcribed from the Siddur Kol Bo, vol. 3 (1923), p. 33. . . .
This piyyut is signed “Elyaqim Ḥazaq.” Alas, we do not know who this Elyaqim was or even whether he was a rabbinic or Karaite Jew. The piyyut has been preserved for us in the Karaite cycle (Vilna printing press, 1852, Vol. IV, p. 135.) and there are several other piyyutim signed with his name. . . .
This piyyuṭ, bearing the acrostic signature “Samuel,” is traditionally recited in the communities of Babylonia and India as a petiḥa, or opening poem, before the Song of the Sea. It is also sung on Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath where we read the Song of the Sea in public. This translation is an attempt to preserve the original meaning as well as the rhyme scheme and poetic form. . . .
“Bore ‘Ad Anah” is a ḳinah recited in a number of Sephardic communities on Tishah b’Av (or in some cases on Shabbat Hazon, the Shabbat preceding Tishah b’Av), particularly in the Spanish-Portuguese and North African traditions. The author is unknown, but his name is likely Binyamin based on the acrostic made up of the first letters of the verses. In the kinah, the Children of Israel are compared to a wandering dove caught in a trap by predators, crying out its father, God. The ḳinah was likely written as a poignant response to the Spanish Inquisition, appropriate to Tishah b’Av since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain occurred on the 9th of Av in the year 1492. The version presented here was likely censored, as many manuscripts have the fifth verse presented in the following manner directly calling out their Catholic oppressors,” יועצים עליה עצות היא אנושה זרים העובדים אלילים שלושה אם ובן ורוח כי אין להם בושה גדול ממכאובי.” “They counsel against her and she languishes, the strangers who worship three idols, father, son and spirit, for they have no shame and great is my suffering.” . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
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). . . .
This an an untitled piyyut by Eleazer of Worms, eulogizing his beloved wife Dulcea (Heb: דולצא, also, Dulcia and Dolce). The Hebrew text is derived from the transcription offered by Israel Kamelhar inRabbenu Eleazar mi-Germaiza, ha-Roqeah (Rzeazow, 1930), pp. 17-19. The translation and annotation come from Dr. Ivan G. Marcus from his article, “Mothers, Martyrs, and Moneymakers: Some Jewish Women in Medieval Europe” in Conservative Judaism, vol. 38(3), Spring 1986. . . .
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. . . .
“Avnei Y’qar” is a succint piyyut for Ḥanukkah, traditionally attributed to R. Abraham ibn Ezra, and particularly beloved by the Yemenites. Interestingly, it doesn’t mention the miracle of the oil whatsoever, focusing on the degradation of the land under Greek occupation as well as the Hasmonean victory itself. Included is a poetic acrostic translation into English. . . .
This is the piyyut, עֵת שַׁעֲרֵי רָצוֹן (Eit Shaarei Ratson) by Rabbi Yehuda ben Shmuel ibn Abbas (12th century Aleppo, Syria (born in Fez, Morocco)). The English translation presented here is by Rabbi Stephen Belsky. . . .
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. . . .