Tisha B’Av CD Brings 80 Lamentations from North Africa

A new CD compilation released especially for Tisha B'Av brings together traditional lamentations by North African Jews.

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Elad Benari,

CD Cover
CD Cover
Arutz Sheva photo: The Ashdod Piyutim Center

In preparation for the solemn day of Tisha B’Av, which begins Monday night, the Ashdod Center for Poetry and Piyutim, together with Israeli music store chain HaOzen Hashlishit (lit. The Third Ear), has produced a unique CD featuring kinot (lamentations) for Tisha B’Av chanted according to the style of Jews from North Africa and Morocco.

The CD contains more than eighty kinot, which are traditionally recited on the night of Tisha B’Av, after the reading of the Book of Lamentations (Eicha). Moti Malka of the Ashdod Center for Poetry and Piyutim spoke of the project in an interview on Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew-language news service on Sunday.

Malka said that many of the kinot were written after traumatic events such as pogroms, the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. Among these kinot is one written by Rav Haim Sabato on the Holocaust, and which is also included in the CD collection.

Malka noted that the task of collecting the kinot and recording them without using musical instruments was performed by Rabbi David Edri, whom Malka called “an encyclopedia of piyutim.”

He explained that the main purpose of the CD is to help cantors who often are not aware of the full range of liturgical poetry and kinot that can be chanted on Tisha B’Av. Listening to the CD, said Malka, allows them to better prepare for the synagogue service.

Malka noted that unlike melodies and piyutim that are sung on other Jewish festivals and which have been recorded countless times before, Tisha B’Av kinot have never before been organized and recorded in a manner such as this, which makes the compilation a breakthrough in this field.

The recordings were done in the Sefrou Immigrants’ Synagogue in Ashdod, one of the oldest congregations in the city.

“It was important for us to record the lamentations for posterity just as they were chanted in the synagogues,” said Rabbi Edri. “This means only the Cantor and the worshipers with no instruments at all.

“There are lamentations on difficult events and the tragic life of the Jewish people or the life of the author,” he added. “These include lamentations on the feelings over the exiles from the Second Temple and from Spain, as well as on the horrors of the Inquisition. There are lamentations describing the yearning for redemption. There are also lamentations describing the state of a Jewish community.”

Among the writers of the 80 lamentations in the collection one may find some of the greatest poets from among the Jews of Spain and North Africa, including Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, Rabbi Yaakov Ibn Zur, and Rabbi Yisrael Najara.