Throughout history, music has remained a fixture of Jewish religious life. Musical references appear in biblical accounts of the Red Sea crossing and King Solomon's coronation, and music continues to play a central role in virtually every Jewish occasion. Through 100 brief, self-contained chapters, this volume considers the theoretical approaches to the study of Jewish sacred music and explores the central functions and properties of Jewish prayer song. Major topics include the diversity of Jewish music, the interaction of music and identity, the emotional and spiritual impact of worship music, the text-tone relationship, the musical component of Jewish holidays, and the varied ways prayer-songs are performed. These digestible distillations of complex topics invite a fuller appreciation of the fertile field of synagogue song and an understanding of the underlying rationale for the ubiquitous presence of musical tones in Jewish worship.
Jonathan L. Friedmann is cantor of Bet Knesset Bamidbar and Congregation P'nai Tikvah, both in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a professor of Jewish music history at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and is the author, editor or compiler of nine other books on music and religion.