Judaica Project Songs

LABORATORY PHASE (May – October 2017)

The following eighteen albums have been selected from the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archives label to serve as the core focus of investigation during the 2017 intensive laboratory phase of research.

  1. Abayudaya
  2. An Evening at Cafe Feenjon
  3. Ballads, Wedding Songs, and Piyyutim of the Sephardic Jews of Tetuan and Tangier, Morocco
  4. Bukhara: Musical Crossroads of Asia
  5. Chad Gadya — One Kid
  6. Ethiopia: The Falasha and the Adjuran Tribe
  7. Greek-Jewish Musical Traditions
  8. Hassidic Tunes of Dancing and Rejoicing
  9. Jewish Folk Songs
  10. Jewish Life: The Old Country
  11. Morasha: Traditional Jewish Musical Heritage
  12. Music of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue
  13. Religious Music of the Falashas
  14. Salute to Israel
  15. Sephardic Folk Songs
  16. Songs of the Ghetto
  17. The Travelling Jewish Wedding
  18. The Yemenite Jews

As of early June, the three core researchers are working with the following songs:

Ben Spatz

  • ‘Chad Gadya’, Chad Gadya [Aramaic]
  • ‘Yearning Tune’, Hassidic Tunes of Dancing and Rejoicing [nonlexical]
  • ‘Yafim Halelot’, Jewish Folk Songs [Hebrew]
  • ‘Hinei Ma Tav’, Abayudaya [Hebrew, Luganda]
  • ‘Tulo Tulo’, Abayudaya [Luganda]

Nazlıhan Eda Erçin

  • ‘Shishelai’, An Evening at Café Feenjon [Turkish]
  • ‘Fel Sharah Canet Benet Masha’, Sephardic Folk Songs [French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, English]
  • ‘Love Song’, Morasha [Turkish]
  • ‘Rachel’, Salute to Israel [Hebrew]
  • ‘Durme Hermoza Donzeya’, Sephardic Folk Songs [Ladino]

Agnieszka Mendel

  • ‘A-A Lyu Lyu’ and ‘Hob ich mir a schpan’, Jewish Life: The Old Country [Yiddish]
  • ‘Se Ug’di’, Jewish Folk Songs [Hebrew]
  • ‘En ca de mi padre’, Ballads, Wedding Songs, and Piyyutim of the Sephardic Jews of Tetuan and Tangier, Morocco [Ladino]
  • ‘Minush’, Sephardic Folk Songs [Ladino]
  • ‘Eyfo Hem’, Salute to Israel [Hebrew]
  • ‘Ahot ketana’, Greek-Jewish Musical Traditions [Hebrew]
  • Selection not from Smithsonian albums: ‘Spiel, spiel’; ‘Oy mame’ [Yiddish]

PREVIOUS PHASES (2012 – 2017)

The following songs were explored during the first several phases of the project in New York City and Huddersfield. They were learned through a variety of sources and methods. Some are still being practiced.

‘Ale brider’ (Yiddish). Traditional.

‘Avinu malkeinu’ (Hebrew). Traditional.

‘Dror Yikra’ (Hebrew). Text by Dunash ben Labrat, Fez-Baghdad-Sfarad, 10th Century. Melody: Bostoner Hassidic Tradition, performed by the Admor Levi Yitzchak Horowitz ben Pinchas David, the Bostoner Rebbe. Source: Invitation to Piyut.

‘El adon’ (Hebrew). Text: Anonymous. Melody by Lynn Monte, Algeria. Source: Invitation to Piyut.

‘Haben yakir li’ (Hebrew). Arrangement by Herbert Rothgarber. Performed by the Velvel Pasternak Chorus. Treasury of Hassidic Song, Collector’s Guild Records. Source: Recorded Sound Archives.

‘Hineh ma tov’ (Hebrew). Traditional.

‘Hineh ma tov’ (Hebrew and Luganda). Melody by the Young Jewish Club, Mbale, Uganda, early 1980s. Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

‘Bina’s Nigun’ (nonlexical). Composed and performed by Joey Weisenberg & The Hadar Ensemble. Joey’s Nigunim, Vol. III: Live in the Choir Loft, Mechon Hadar (New York, 2013).

‘Joshke Joshke’ (Yiddish). Traditional. Performed by Caridwen Irvine-Spatz. Sqworld Record, Mighty Squirrel (Portland, 2010).

‘Min alu Dawit’ (Amharic). Arranged by Demeke ben Engda and Daniel Desalegn Firku. Performed by Demeke ben Engda with Beta Avraham, Jewish Community of North Shewa, Ethiopia. Temesgen. Source: Kulanu.

‘Nigun Simcha’ (nonlexical). Traditional. Performed by Avraham Fried. The Baal Shem Tov’s Song, Sameach Music Inc. (New York, 2010).

‘One Day’ (English). Traditional (‘Papir Iz Doch Vays’). Collected and translated by Ruth Rubin. Jewish Folk Songs in Yiddish and English, Oak Publications (New York, 1965).

‘Un Nisn’ (Yiddish). Text by S. Ansky (1919), from The Dybbuk. Melody based on a recording by Noyekh Nachbush, who originated the role of Messenger, Vilna Troupe (1920). Special thanks to Debra Caplan, Baruch College, CUNY.

‘V’Ani’ (Hebrew & nonlexical). Arrangement by Yisroel Lamm. Performed by David Werdyger with the Boyaner Choir. Boyaner Nigunim, Aderet Records. Source: Recorded Sound Archives. https://rsa.fau.edu/album/44948


Project Leader
Ben Spatz

Laboratory Phase (2017)
Nazlıhan Eda Erçin
Agnieszka Mendel

Performance Art (2017)
Maiada Aboud

Dybbuk version (2014-2016)
Sióbhán Harrison
Jennifer Parkin
Sobhia Jones
Nicola Fisher
Karoliina Sandstrom

Aleph version (2013)
Bruce Steinberg

Steampunk version (2012)
Margot Bassett


Recent talks and workshops
Aarhus University
University of Winchester
Nucleo de Investigación Artística, Chile
University of Gothenburg
University of California, Davis
Somatische Akademie Berlin
University of Leeds
University of Kent
Leeds Beckett University
Leiden University
Zurich University of the Arts
Trier University, Germany
Lithuanian Academy of M&T
American Society for Theater Research
Int Fed for Theatre Research
Cultural Studies Association
a2ru National Conference
Middlesex University, London
University of Zagreb, Croatia
University of Ghent
University of Brighton
University of Bedfordshire
Northwestern University
University of South Wales
Maastricht University
University of Anbar, Iraq
Dans Brabant, Netherlands
University of Aberdeen

Laboratory Phase (2017)
Center for Jewish Studies, CUNY
Galicia Jewish Museum, Kraków
Goldsmiths, University of London
Grotowski Institute, Wroclaw
ISSJ, Philadelphia
JW3 Community Center, London
LABA Lab for Jewish Culture, NYC
Leimay Ensemble, NYC
Massolit Books, Krakow
Martin E. Segal Center, CUNY
New York University
NN Theatre, Lublin
Panoply Performance Lab, NYC
POLIN Museum, Warsaw
RCSSD, London
SITI Company, NYC
Tufts University, Boston
University of Kent
University of Manchester
Wesleyan University, Connecticut
White Stork Synagogue, Wroclaw

Performance Art (2017)
Actformance, Huddersfield
Awkward Bastards, Birmingham

Chorus (2017-2018)
Holocaust Memorial, Huddersfield

Dybbuk version (2014-2015)
Performing the Jewish Archive
University of Huddersfield

Aleph version (2013)
Performance Mix Festival, NYC

Steampunk version (2012)
Movement Research, NYC
Earthdance, MA
Triskelion Arts, NYC

2017 Lab Details

Team Members
Travel Calendar
List of Songs
IP Statement

Research Funding and Support
Arts & Humanities Research Council
University of Huddersfield