Cuando El Rey Nimrod ...

("When King Nimrod ...") A Ladino (Spanish/Hebrew) myth about King Nimrod, who saw a star foretelling the birth of Abraham. It is traditionally sung in Sephardic communities at a brit milah, (ritual circumcision of infant Jewish males on the eighth day of life, which brings them into the covenant established by Abraham with God).

Ladino Folk Song

Al Tifg'i Vi Le-ozveich

("Entreat Me Not To Leave Thee") After her husband's death, Ruth became the first convert to Judaism by pledging to Naomi, her mother-in-law: " ... whither thou goest, I will go ... your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God ... " I sing a duet to portray how this choice intertwined the destinies of these two women.

Book Of Ruth, I: 16-17; Music by Lawrence Avery © Transcontinental Music Publications

Sh'ma Koleynu

("Hear Our Voice") "Hear our voice, O Lord. Have compassion upon us and receive our prayer with mercy. Do not turn away from us when we are old and have lost our strength; do not abandon us."

High Holy Day Liturgy; Music by Max Helfman © Transcontinental Music Publications


("Play the Balalayke") This riddle is a very popular Yiddish song sung by Jews throughout the world. The words have taken many variations to reflect different cultures and historical concerns. This is one of the more romantic versions.

Yiddish Folk Song

Al HaNisim

("The Miracles") This piece recounts the historical events of Chanukah: a miraculous victory against an overwhelming enemy. It also thanks God for "delivering the strong into the hands of theweak, the many into the hands of the few, the wicked into the hands of the just, and the arrogant into the hands of those devoted to your law.".

Chanukah Liturgy; Music: Traditional

Dodi Li

("I Am My Beloved's") A mystical song expressing the love between God and Israel as well as between woman and man. It is often sung at weddings.

From Song of Songs; Music by Nira Chen

Avinu Malkeynu Z'chor Rachamecha

("Our Father our King, Remember Your Compassion") In this prayer we beg God to show mercy and protect us from all manner of evil.

High Holy Day Liturgy; Music by Moshe Ganchoff


"By The Waters of Babylon; Kol Han'shamah ("Every soul will praise God, Halleluyah"); Hava Nashirah (Let us sing a song of Halleluyah).

Psalm 137:1, folk song; Music by Joseph Haydn

Ani Ma'amin

("I Believe") The thirteenth of Maimonides' 13 Articles of Faith: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and though he tarry, I believe. This was the song that many Jews sang as they travelled to the concentration camps in boxcars--their belief in the coming Messiah still undiminished.

Moses Maimonides; Music: Folk Song

Sim Shalom

("Grant Peace") "Grant peace, goodness and blessing to the world; graciousness, kindness and mercy to us ..." We acknowledge with this prayer the divine light that brings peace to the world -- among all blessings, none is greater.

Daily Liturgy; Music: Moshe Ganchoff

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A cantor tries to reach the deepest recesses of the human heart during worship services through music which uplifts and transforms the soul, as almost nothing else can. I have chosen selections for this recording which move me in my own personal prayer, rejoicing, and meditation. They express deep and passionate sentiments of the Jewish people. Some are liturgical prayers from the "golden age" of hazzanut -- the great cantorial art from the 19th and early 20th centuries which emerged from synagogues of Eastern Europe, composed by celebrated cantorial masters. Others are the art songs and folk melodies in Yiddish, Ladino, and Hebrew, arranged in some contemporary and innovative ways. Some plead to God for peace and protection. Others tell stories, express love, or affirm faith. Some are powerful and stirring, others soft and comforting; like a L'viah -- a lioness (my Hebrew name).