The Potency of Passover’s Musical Tradition
Music has a way of transcending language and creating a communal experience. It is the ideal tool for fostering generational traditions, especially during holidays like Passover. The way stories and traditions are interpreted through song can create a sort of "generational spiritual wealth". Music has always played a crucial role in the retelling of Passover, with songs and melodies that have been passed down through generations.
Music contains a strong power to evoke memories and emotions, for example, the song "Dayenu" is a lively staple of Passover Seder and hearing it can bring about memories of family gatherings, delicious food, and the Passover story itself.
JCFS’ Rabbi David Rosenberg, Coordinator of Jewish Educational Services at the Knapp School and Yeshiva, is a clarinet and piano player, and has talked extensively about the effectiveness of music in Jewish tradition. “Stories used to be passed down through song and verbal communication rather than books or texts, which gives people a more active role in passing down stories,” said Rabbi Rosenberg. "Building culture, not just consuming it, is essential for being spiritually active in our traditions.”
The role of music goes all the way back to the beginning of Passover: The story of Miriam, Moses' sister, is told through a song known as "Miriam's Song". According to the Torah, after crossing the Red Sea, Miriam took a timbrel and led the women in song and dance. The lyrics of this song celebrated the miraculous nature of the Exodus and the Jewish people's liberation from slavery.
Passover's musical tradition is an essential part of Jewish heritage and culture, with the ability to transcend language and build community. Encourage your seder to sing loudly and passionately at the table, especially for the benefit of young ones! The positivity and musical tradition you create here can last a lifetime.