The Fifteenth World Congress Of Jewish Studies Jerusalem
Session: Ashkenazi traditions: the Synagogue and Beyond, 3.8.09
Chair: Amalia Kedem
When envisioning the performance of Zemiroth Shabbat (The Sabbath table songs) one imagines an intimate home setting in which ancient family-specific songs passed on from father to son for generations are performed in a similar manner week after week. The performance of the Zemirotht within the Religious-Zionist society (which is mainly Ashkenazi) since the establishment of the State of Israel defies most of these conditions and reflects a social and ideological shift from previous generations.
When comparing the current day Zemirotht repertory, performance practice, and mode of dissemination to those of the pre-holocaust Ashkenazi diaspora some major differences emerge. These differences occurred, as it will be discussed and demonstrated in the presentation, due to two main causes. Firstly, the newly created Religious Zionist social frameworks, such as youth movements, Yeshivahs and religious Kibbutzim introduced a Zemiroth repertory, often replacing the older more personal family one. Secondly, the newly emerging electronic media popularized certain melodies through Israeli radio programs and vinyl records published since the 1950. These melodies, some of which were settings of Zemiroth texts, played an important role in the shaping of the Religious Zionist soundtrack. Thus the singing of Zemirotht by Religious Zionist Jews in Israel presents a fascinating case of a degeneration process in which music of the home is influenced by communal social change and a universal musical upheaval.