The term haggada, which translates generically as “narrative,” is most commonly associated with the specific fixed narrative and related liturgical and para-liturgical texts that are read, recited, reenacted, and discussed at the Passover seder—the annual home ritual in which the ancient Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, their liberation from bondage, and their embarkation on the path to a new, independent national as well as religious identity are commemorated and celebrated.
Body of Jewish law comprising the rules and ordinances of Jewish religious and civil practice.
Referring to modern (post–18th century) hassidism—the culture, music, folklore and religious and spiritual orientation of the mystical, pious, but popular mass movement begun by the followers (hassidim) of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (the “Besht”: 1700–1760) and his teachings, starting in the Ukraine and subsequently spreading throughout Eastern Europe from that time through the 20th century, and branching out into various subgroups (dynasties) under different venerated leaders (rebbes), with variant but related philosophical approaches and emphases. Regardless of the variants of individual sects, the focus of this approach is, in general, upon joy, ecstasy, and emotion relating to God’s approachability, even taking precedence over strictly legalistic considerations.
The precentor, or one who intones/chants/sings the synagogue liturgy. Especially in the modern era, this usually implies a “professional” artist as distinguished from a lay precentor, (ba’al t’filla—“master of prayer“), even though the latter must also be fully expert in the intricacies of appropriate and required modes and tunes, but not necessarily musically or vocally trained. Bona fide cantors in the modern era are institutionalized clergy with pastoral functions as well, co-equal with rabbis and part of a “dual clergy” unique to Jewish practice. The cantor’s function, whether professional or lay, is required for synagogue services. (The term cantor is not to be confused with the German Kantor, meaning church choirmaster.)
Hazzanut (Cantorial Art)
Usually referring to the Ashkenazi realm of cantorial art (even though Sephardi and other non-Ashkenazi cultures have their own cantorial traditions) and its highly developed, intricate, and often virtuoso florid idioms based in part upon Hebrew prayer modes, biblical cantillation motifs, traditional tunes, and, in some cases, Hassidic melos—and influenced as well by local musical elements of European host cultures.