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Music in American Religious Experience$
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Philip V. Bohlman, Edith Blumhofer, and Maria Chow

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195173048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173048.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

 Nusach and Identity

 Nusach and Identity

The Contemporary Meaning of Traditional Jewish Prayer Modes

(p.271) 12 Nusach and Identity
Music in American Religious Experience

Jeffrey A. Summit

Oxford University Press

Drawing upon fieldwork in five different Jewish communities or synagogues in the Boston area, this chapter examines nusach as an adaptive strategy. It uses an emic, or insider's, perspective to interpret nusach's complex dimensions, on one hand, traditional Jewish prayer modes and metrical songs, on the other; the metaphorical sense of being “torn away” from tradition, and the resulting mixing with local and individual practices of music and worship. Jewish sacred song opens outward to accommodate the religious experience of liberal and orthodox Jews in Boston, and it provides a context for their lives, allowing decisions that make Judaism in America inclusive and exclusive. Specific songs, such as “Arba'im shanah” (“Forty Years”) from the Sabbath eve service, provide case studies.

Keywords:   Arba'im shanah, Boston, emic, Judaism, liberal, nusach, orthodox, prayer modes, synagogues

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