History of Jewish Music — The Story of Jewish Songs From Past to Present — Part 1

There have been many Jewish musicians in old history as well as modern times as it has given us many diverse types of sounds ranging from the beautiful traditional Jewish religious that started in the Temple of Jerusalem all the way into the feminist Jewish folk music of Debbie Friendman . The original synagogal music was very symbolic and their temple choir consisted of 12 male singers (the number 12 representing the 12 tribes of Israel) and a few different musical instruments. The temple music of Jerusalem was banned for a time after the event of the destruction of the temple but the faith and strong tradition of the Jewish people made sure that the music was never forgotten and therefore it never died out.

When the laws against this music in Jerusalem were eased the music came back into the temple where it is still performed today. The other great part of Jewish temple music is that it was very flexible. By flexible I mean that when Synagogues opened in other countries they would keep some lines of the original temple music but also introduce new words to echo the tradition of the country that the Temple was currently in. This to me signifies a very open, moderate approach and it worked well with not only keeping the traditional Jewish practitioners happy but also to draw in the younger generation that had had more of the new country tradition ingrained into them.

Religious Jewish music in general, whether it was sung in the temples or in other places of worship always tried to cater to all the generation of Jewish people, but always had some phrases from their prayer book. Modern Jewish religions music also had this great tradition of having a wide variety of sounds to it from classical and opera to the blues and jazz and some artists such as Daniel Ben Shalom had many sounds to his music from rock and jazz to Chassidic music. If there is one word i can ascribe to Jewish music as well as to the Jewish people, it is eclectic. The music is rich in diversity and reaches out to so many people, whether they are Jewish or not.

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