Leon Weinberger draws on a wealth of material, much of it previously available only in Hebrew, to trace the history of Jewish hymnography from its origins in the eastern Mediterranean to its subsequent development in western Europe (Spain, Italy, Franco-Germany, and England) and Balkan Byzantium, on the Grecian periphery, under the Ottomans, and among the Karaites. Focusing on each region in turn, he provides a general background to the role of the synagogue poets in the society of the time; characterizes the principal poets and describes their contribution; examines the principal genres and forms; and considers their distinctive language, style, and themes. The copious excerpts from the liturgy are presented in transliterated Hebrew and in English translation, and their salient characteristics are fully discussed to bring out the historical development of ideas and regional themes as well as literary forms.
Professor Weinberger's study is a particularly valuable source-book for students of synagogue liturgy, Jewish worship, and medieval Hebrew poetry. It provides new perspectives for students of religious poetry and forms of worship more generally, while enabling the general reader to acquire a much-enriched appreciation of the synagogue services.
Leon J. Weinberger was University Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama, and winner of the 1995 Friedman Prize of the Histadrut Ivrit of America for contributions to Hebrew literature and culture. He died in 2011.
Note on transliteration Abbreviations Hispano-Hebrew Metres Introduction 1 The Beginnings of Hymnography in Eres Yisra'el and Babylon The Early Period in Eres Yisra'el: General Background; The Principal Poets; The Principal Genres * The Classical Period in Ers Yisra'el: General Background; The Principal Poets; The Principal Genres; Language and Style * Post-Classical Developments in the Babylonian Diaspora: General Background; The Principal Poets; The Principal Genres; New Genres 2 Hymnographic Developments in Spain General Background * Language and Style * The Principal Genres 3 Cantor-Rabbis in Italy, Franco-Germany, and England General Background * The Principal Italian Poets * Language and Style in Italy * The Principal Italian Genres * The Principal Franco-German Poets * Franco-German Language and Style * The Principal Franco-German Genres * England's Principal Poets 4 Poets in Balkan Byzantium General Background * The Principal Poets: Early Romaniotes * The Principal Genress of the Early Romaniotes * The Principal Poets: Later Romaniotes * The Principal Genres of the Later Romaniotes 5 Cantor-Poets on Greece's Periphery: Macedonia, Bulgaria, Corfu, Kaffa (Crimea), and Crete General Background: Macedonia and Bulgaria * The Principal Macedonian and Bulgarian Poets * The Principal Macedonian Genres * General Background: Corfu, Kaffa (Crimea), and Crete * The Principal Corfiote Poets * The Principal Corfiote Genres * General Background: Kaffa * The Principal Kaffan Poets * The Principal Kaffan Genres * General Background: Crete * The Principal Cretan Poets *The Principal Cretan Genres 6 Ottoman Hymnography General Background * The Principal Poets * The Principal Genres 7 Karaite Synagogue Poets General Background * The Principal Poets * Language and Style * The Principal Genres Glossary Select bibliography Index of piyyutim (Hebrew) Index of piyyutim (Transliterated) General index