Kol Nidre

"Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die" -- And Who Wrote the Greatest Prayer Ever?

Most people look forward to the "Kol Nidre" prayer as the high point of the High Holy Days.  Not me.  I'm an "Unetanah Tokef" fan, the central prayer of the Rosh Hashanah service.  You probably know it -- it's the one with lines like "Who shall live and who shall die," "Who shall perish by water and who by fire / Who by sword and who by wild beast." (I'll past the whole thing at the end of this blog.) But few people pause to consider its origins or its real meaning.  To be honest, I haven't ruminated on those things

For Blacks And Jews, A Musical Gray Area

Collection featuring black musicians singing Jewish songs masks a complicated cultural relationship.

10/12/2010
Staff Writer

In 1958, when Johnny Mathis was recording an album of African-American spirituals in homage to his black mother, he included a seemingly odd song: “Kol Nidre,” the centerpiece of the Yom Kippur service and perhaps the holiest of all Jewish prayers.

“Kol Nidre,” said Johnny Mathis, who recorded the prayer on a 1958 album, “is just a big, big emotional outpouring.”

When Life Imitates Liturgy: What the Queens Tornado Teaches About Life

09/27/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In the early evening of September 16, the day before Yom Kippur, my neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, here in the city of New York, was hit by a tornado. No one could remember the last time that had happened, but no one who experienced it this time around- myself very much included- will ever forget it. It was a terrifying experience, and it wreaked extensive damage. Most homes, including my own, had roof damage from falling trees, cars were sliced in half by them, power and cable lines were downed (some still are), and in general, it caused great distress.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik
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