Discovering Jewish Music

Marsha Bryan Edelman

Publisher: JPS

Most of us have experienced “Jewish music,” whether it’s through synagogue attendance, a Bar Mitzvah celebration, a klezmer concert, or the playing of “Hava Nagila” at a baseball game.

The many different kinds of Jewish music are reflected by the multitude of Jewish communities throughout the world, each having its own unique set of experiences and values This book helps put all of that music into a context of Jewish history, philosophy, and sociology.

Edelman begins 3,000 years ago, with a brief discussion of music in the Bible, and moves on to examine the nature of folk and liturgical music in the three major Diaspora communities that evolved over centuries, after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. From there she explores music of the 20th century, discussing the explosion of popular music in North America and Israel and its enormous impact on Jews and their musical identities, within the synagogue and outside it.

This book will be enjoyed by a wide range of readers with interests in Jewish culture, history, philosophy, and music. The author explains musical terms in a way that is understandable to those unfamiliar with the terminology. At the same time, students of music will appreciate the book for its more than 150 musical illustrations, and its intelligent juxtaposition of the many aspects of Jewish life and practice that combine to provide a stage for Jewish music. All will appreciate the accompanying audio CD.

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