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Creating the Anthology
Jewish family enjoying a song

The notation of the music for this project is as faithful as possible to the rendition of the tunes as they are understood. On occasions the timing has been simplified to make it more easily understood and the melody changed to make it consistent between verses.

The text is also as faithful to the contributors’ songs as possible which has sometimes meant changing some of the words. The songs have been transliterated in the modern Sephardi pronunciation although many of the contributors have sung the text in the Ashkenazi style with discrepancies from the original texts of the Haggadah and zmirot.

Some of the songs are in Yiddish and there is one very interesting pre-Holocaust German song. Yiddish is the language of the Ashkenazim, the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe and their descendants and in the early 20th century, before the Holocaust, was the most widely spoken Jewish language. Today, very few Jews use it as their primary language. Yiddish follows German grammar but has Slavic and Semitic influences and is written in Hebrew characters.

Some of the songs are in Ladino, the romance language which used to be spoken by Sephardic Jews in the Balkans, the Middle East, North Africa, Greece and Turkey but now is nearly extinct in these areas. It is a form of Castilian Spanish mixed with Hebrew elements which was used by the Jews of Spain after their expulsion in 1492.

There are also songs in Aramaic which is a very old Semitic language closely related to Hebrew, and one song sung partly in Arabic, the language used by the majority of people in the Middle East.

In transcribing the stories we have also tried to be faithful to the spoken word. As there are many dialects of the Yiddish language, coming as it does from different parts of Eastern Europe, we have included some untranslatable Hebrew and Yiddish colloquialisms!

All Hebrew and Yiddish words in italics that are not explained in the text can be found in the glossary.