Thursday, November 18, 2010

Singing the Torah

I haven't really spoken very much about my nephew's bar-mitzvah. You probably already know that a bar-mitzvah is a celebration of a boy turning 13, and it involves lots of parties and presents. But it's really all about learning how to sing the Torah (which you probably know as the "Old" Testament). The picture above shows what a typical Torah section looks like, what you see are only consonants - no vowels and no musical notes, those you have to know by heart.

In the sentence below the the consonants are in black, vowels red and notes (cantillation) blue:

It's not easy!

In Orthodox communities women are forbidden from singing the Torah in front of men, but they are allowed to sing in front of female-only congregations. There is just such a scene in that series called "Srugim" which I briefly described in a previous post. This scene brings tears of joy to my eyes and encapsulates so much of my love of the Hebrew language and culture, it starts around minute two.

This television series has been coined "No Sex in the City," and "Sex in the Holy City," and that cracks me up. But I tell you what, this series makes SATC look like a tawdry, crass and dumbed down exploitation of the lives of single women. And I'm a huge SATC fan from way back, so go figure.


Duyvken said...

A friend of ours converted to judaism when he was 30 and it was a long tricky process for him to master the section he learned for his ceremony.Congrats to your nephew!

RW said...

I would love to watch this show. I am on a mission now.

Thanks E.

I love these last few posts. I am soaking up everything.

Paola said...

I am also intrigued by this show and would like to watch it.
The religious part of the Bar Mitzvah sounds so interesting. Nowadays all these milestones have been totally claimed by the commercial aspect of it: party, gifts, more party ... glad you had such a lovely time.

Anonymous said...

Eleanor, you're in Israel! This is totally fascinating. Thanks!

eurolush said...

You've been singing the Torah for a really long time now...since my birthday, in fact!

Miss you...