Siddur Ba-eir Hei-teiv --- The Transliterated Siddur

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Learn to sing Magein Avot --- from the Friday evening Sabbath liturgy Print E-mail
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All transliterations, commentary, and audio recordings are copyright © 1997, 1998, 2002, 2009, or 2016 by Jordan Lee Wagner. All rights reserved.

Here are some of the most popular melodies for Magein Avot:

  • Here's a congregational melody written by Israel Goldfarb in 1918 in New York. It was popular in Conservative synagogues in northeastern New Jersey in the 1960s.
  • Here's the same tune, adapted for use in orthodox synagogues by avoiding the repeated line.
  • Here's a traditional tune, used by Louis Lewandowsky (among others). It's currently popular in Boston area orthodox shuls.
  • Here's another variation of the traditional tune, this time preceded by the opening blessing and followed by R'tsei Vimnuchateinu, all chanted in the proper Friday night chant mode, which is in fact called Magein Avot mode.  (Notice that this chant mode rests -- starts and ends -- on what to Western ears may sound like the fifth degree of the scale.) This recording is hosted at VirtualCantor.com, a highly recommended resource.

Magein Avot (Shield of Our Ancestors)

Magein Avot contains paraphrases of the seven bless­ings of the Shab­bat Amidah. It was added after the Friday night Amidah in order to pro­long the service. It is inserted between Va-y'chu-lu and R'tsei Vim'nu-cha-tei-nu. These three together sit where a Reader's Repetition of the Amidah would be, if it were not an evening service.

In ancient times, as now, more people came to synagogue on Shabbat than the rest of the week. Those who came only on Shabbat would be the least familiar with the ser­vice and would take more time, and there were always some people that would arrive late. By prolonging the Friday night service, they were given an op­portunity to finish their prayers with the rest of the congregation, so everyone could leave together. Syna­gogues were often located outside the precincts of the city, since the rulers did not tolerate Jewish worship within the confines of their municipalities,[i] and as it was danger­ous to walk home alone at night outside city walls, leaving at the same time promoted physical safety.[ii]

[i] Even in modern America, local political processes have sometimes been used to the same effect.

[ii] c.f., Rashi, Shabbat 24.

--- adapted from "The Synagogue Survival Kit" by Jordan Lee Wagner, publ. by Rowman & Littlefield. 1997.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 December 2009 15:42

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