Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music, and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn

Overview

Syrian Jews in Brooklyn, New York, number more than forty thousand and constitute the largest single group of Jews from Syria in the world. Their thriving community includes fifteen synagogues in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where the practice of singing Arab melodies is a cornerstone of their religious services. In Maqam and Liturgy, author Mark L. Kligman investigates the multidimensional interaction of music and text in Sabbath prayers of the Syrian Jews to trace how Arab and Jewish traditions have merged...

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Overview

Syrian Jews in Brooklyn, New York, number more than forty thousand and constitute the largest single group of Jews from Syria in the world. Their thriving community includes fifteen synagogues in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where the practice of singing Arab melodies is a cornerstone of their religious services. In Maqam and Liturgy, author Mark L. Kligman investigates the multidimensional interaction of music and text in Sabbath prayers of the Syrian Jews to trace how Arab and Jewish traditions have merged in this particular culture, helping to illuminate a little-known dimension of Jewish identity and Jewish-Arab cultural interaction.

Based on fieldwork conducted in 1990-91, Kligman worked closely with the leading Syrian cantors who maintain the community's traditional practices and pass them on to the next generation. Kligman's research demonstrates that Arab culture is manifest in the liturgy of Syrian Jews on many levels. Namely, the maqam system, the modal scales of Arab music, organizes Syrian liturgy through the adaptation not only of Arab melodies but the aesthetics of Arab musical practices, including the extra-musical associations of maqamat that determine which of the eleven modes is to be used. Kligman contextualizes the music and liturgy of Syrian Jewish worship within the disciplines of ethnomusicology, Judaic and cultural studies, and anthropology. A CD of liturgical chanting is also included with this volume.

Though the process of adapting Arab music and aesthetics into a Jewish liturgical context dates back to the tenth century, the perpetuation of two interconnected Middle Eastern cultures in America is a unique phenomenon. Maqam and Liturgy brings the fascinating culture fusion of the Syrian Jews to the attention of a wider audience, including scholars and teachers of Jewish studies, Middle Eastern studies, anthropology, and ethnomusicology.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mark L. Kligman is professor of Jewish musicology at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Musical Examples

List of Tables

Introduction The Spontaneity of Prayer 1

Pt. 1 Background

1 Cultures in Contact through Music 11

2 History of the Syrian Jewish Community in Brooklyn 23

3 Syrian Liturgy and Prayer Books 37

Pt. 2 Sabbath Morning Service

4 Syrian Musical Life: The Maqam System as Practiced in Brooklyn 53

5 Sabbath Morning Service 73

6 Birkhot ha-Shahar and Zemirot 84

7 Shaharit 95

8 Torah Service and Musaf 137

9 Overall Design of the Syrian Sabbath Morning Service 152

Pt. 3 A Judeo-Arab Synthesis

10 The Maqamat and the Weekly Biblical Reading 161

11 Aesthetics, Performance Practice, and Maintenance of Syrian Liturgy 191

Conclusion: Judeo-Arab Synthesis in the Syrian Sabbath Liturgy 207

Notes 219

Bibliography 239

Index 251

List of CD Tracks 267

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