Eikha - Book of Lamentations excerpt: 2:1–5 02:41
From the Evening Kinot: Aleikhem eda k'dosha 04:54
From the Evening Kinot: Al heikhali ev'ke 02:38
From the Morning Kinot: Eikha tzon haharega 04:16
From the Morning Kinot: G'rushim 02:43
From the Morning Kinot: Ev'ke v'al shod z'vulai 01:56
From the Morning Kinot: Heikhal adonai 03:48
From the Morning Kinot: Bore ad ana 05:10
Shirat hayyam (Exodus 14:26; 15:1–10) 04:37
Aḥot k'tanna (Rosh Hashana Eve) 04:19
Aseret haddibb'rot (Exodus 20:2–17) 05:01
Haftarat vayikra: Preliminary B'rakha, Isaiah 43:21-26 01:58
Et sha'arei ratzon (Rosh Hashana morning) 01:25
Haftarat t'tzave (excerpt, Ezekiel 43:10-15) 02:31

Liner Notes

Tisha b'av is the annual fast day and day of national mourning on the ninth of the Hebrew month of av. It commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, traditionally assigned to those same dates in 586 B.C.E. and 72 C.E., respectively. For Sephardim, the day has an additional significance, since it coincides with the accepted date of the 1492 expulsion edict. The special synagogue services include the reading (i.e., chanting) of the Book of Lamentations (m’gillat eikha), whose lyric poetry laments the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and describes the national agony, as well as a series of later kinot (elegies) by various medieval Hebrew poets. These refer to both ancient calamities, as well as to subsequent catastrophes and massacres in lands of the Diaspora.

The cantillation pattern heard here is reserved exclusively for eikha. Each of the principal Jewish rites (Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Persian, Yemenite, etc.) has a special eikha cantillation of its own. This one is unique to Sephardi custom, and its manner of rendition here is unique to the Portuguese tradition—not only in Amsterdam, but also as it was known in the American Colonies certainly by the mid-18th century. The same applies to the other biblical cantillations (Shirat hayyam, Aseret haddibb'rot, Haftarat vayikra, Haftarat t'tzave, Leviticus 22:26–33, Leviticus 23:33–44): Torah readings, as well as Haftara readings, which are selections from Prophets for Sabbath and holydays.

Kinot texts vary from one tradition to another—and even among different Sephardi traditions. Most of those featured here are contained in a manuscript discovered in a Lisbon archive in the first half of the 20th century. A prayerbook published in Venice in 1519, maḥzor s’fardi, included in a special Tisha b’av section many of those kinot found in the Lisbon manuscript. Since none of these Sephardi kinot refer to the 1492 expulsion, they are believed to have been written between the 11th and 14th centuries.

These kinot were part of the Amsterdam repertoire by the 17th century. They were probably perpetuated in the American Colonies—especially in New York—by Hazzan Mendes Seixas, whose teacher, Joseph Pinto, had most likely brought them from Amsterdam when he came to serve Shearith Israel. In only a few cases do we know much more about their musical origins. Only some of them appear in other Sephardi tradtions as well. It has been suggested that some were adapted from Italian Baroque dance tunes during the formative years of the Amsterdam repertoire. Given the affinity the newly returned Jews had for that genre, and considering the style and structure of some of these tunes, that is certainly one possibility. Some could be original but anonymous compositions from 17th-century Amsterdam. Much further research is required.

The seven kinot here represent only a sampling of the entire literature of these poems. Some are sung at the evening service, and some the following morning.

Aleikhem eda k'dosha was one of the many piyyutim (liturgical poems)—often tunes as well as words—brought to Amsterdam by Hazzan Joseph Gallego. The poetic structure is modeled on the “four questions” of the Passover Seder (“Why is this night different....?”). There are also references to 13th- and 14th-century massacres. The Amsterdam and New York melodies are nearly the same.

Bore ad ana is one of the best-known Sephardi kinot. The poem is based on the well-established image of a dove as a metaphor for the Jewish people. The melody is known in an array of variants in both western and eastern Sephardi traditions. Notwithstanding the words, some of these kinot melodies exhibit less of a dirgelike character and almost an upbeat quality. This is actually consistent with the tendency of western Sephardi Tisha b’av services to emphasize hope for ultimate redemption and national and spiritual restoration, as part of the recalled collective grief.

Shirat hayyam (Song of the Sea) is the hymn of praise for God that is quoted in the Torah as sung by Moses and the Israelites upon their miraculous crossing of the Sea of Reeds and their escape from the pursuing Egyptians. It forms part of the daily morning service, in compliance with the commandment in Deuteronomy (16:3) to “remember all the days of your life the day you left Egypt.” On Sabbaths and Festivals in the Portuguese Sephardi tradition, these verses have a special cantillation.

Aḥot k'tanna is a piyyut sung in Sephardi custom on the first evening of Rosh Hashana as a prayer for the end of the closing year. Recognizable variants are known throughout the western Sephardi world, but the London and New York variants are very close. This is also one of the tunes brought to Amsterdam by Hazzan Gallego. Four of its eight strophes are sung here.

Aseret haddibb'rot  (The Ten Articles of the Sinaitic Covenant) is the section of the Torah comprising the verses that have been rendered mistakenly as “the ten commandments” in nearly every English translation of the Bible, from the Authorized Version (King James) on. That erroneous reading has been followed uncritically by most Jewish translations as well. There are 613 divine commandments in the Torah, not ten. These ten pronouncements are a summary encapsulation of those obligations; and as such in Jewish tradition, they constitute the basic articles of the covenant at Sinai between God and the Israelites—a covenant defined by the acceptance of the Torah and all its commandments. Sephardi custom reserves a special cantillation for public readings of these verses.

The piyyut Et sha'arei ratzon occurs only in the Sephardi liturgy for Rosh Hashana, as a preface to the sounding of the shofar. It concerns the biblical incident known as the akedat yitzhak—the binding of Isaac for sacrifice in a test of Abraham’s faith, and God’s intervention (Genesis 22). This is also the Torah reading for the first day of Rosh Hashana, as well as the reference point for other parts of its liturgy. The poem is based on a Midrashic interpretation of the story, in which Isaac asks Abraham to tell his mother that she need not fear for him—as if to suggest that Isaac already knew the happy outcome. This tune is unique to Portuguese tradition; eastern Sephardim have a different one.



Sung in Hebrew


Eikha (Biblical Cantillation)
Book of Lamentations excerpts: 2:1–5
Translation: Leeser 1856

Oh how hath the Lord covered in his anger the daughter of Zion with a cloud: he hath cast down  from heaven unto the earth the ornament of Israel; and he hath not remembered his footstool on the day of his anger! The Lord hath destroyed and hath not pitied all the  habitations of Jacob; he hath thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he hath thrown them down to the ground: he hath defiled the kingdom and its princes. He hath hewn away in his fierce anger the whole horn of Israel; he hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy; and he burnt against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. He bent his bow like an enemy; he held out his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye: in the tent of the daughter of Zion did he pour out like fire his fury. The Lord became like an enemy; he destroyed Israel, he destroyed all her palaces, he ruined her strongholds; and he increased in the midst of the daughter of Judah groaning and wailing.

Aleikhem eda k'dosha
Translation: Levi 1793

(Strophes 1, 3, 6, 7):

Of you, O ye holy congregation, will I ask some questions: Wherefore is this night distinguished from all other nights?

Wherefore is this night distinguished from all other nights?

Wherefore is the table prepared with joy on the night of the Passover, but on this night, because of our iniquities with the voice of fighting? Alas! that we cannot find rest for the soles of our feet: Ah! woe is me, for the trouble is come, which causes me to forget the dance.

Wherefore is this night....

Wherefore do we always on the night of the Passover complete the Hallel, and on this night, bewail, lament, and mourn? It is because of our iniquities, that we are not able to perform our supplications, for the sanctuary is profaned, and the temple is destroyed.

Wherefore is this night....

Wherefore do we on the night of the Passover, say in the song, Pour out thy wrath, but on this night have we drank wormwood, hemlock, and gall: Ah! Woe is us, for joy is departed, and the ways of Zion mourn.

Al heikhali ev'ke
Translation: Levi 1793

For the sake of my temple, and the glory of the renowned city of Zion, will I weep day and night.

And for the glory of the renowned city of Zion.

The enemy hath made my glorious house desolate: he hath driven me into different countries (into the lands of Nabioth and Shamah); for which, I will continually weep with a doleful voice.

And for the glory of the renowned city of Zion.

I will continually weep for the repeated destruction of the delectable land, and the city of Jerusalem, and for her people which are gone into captivity.

And for the glory of the renowned city of Zion.

O mourn thou Law, for thy glory is profaned: thy crown is fallen since the day that thy house was made desolate: Take up a lamentation for Aholibah and Aholah.

And for the glory of the renowned city of Zion.


Eikha tzon haharega
Translation: Leeser 1866

(Strophes 1–5):

How are the flock given to slaughter dispersed from their folds? Their faces have gathered blackness, they wallow in the mire, and are strange to the sight of all who see them in the streets;

Their visage is blacker than coal, they are not to be known in the streets.

It is fit that I should mourn, and become a companion to the screech owls; that I utter mourning and lamentation, instead of hearkening to organs and stringed instruments; for the doves that have been banished, together with the young ones of the nest—those namely who were brought up in fine linen are now fasting for hunger; those who were fed on delicacies are wasting in the street.

Their visage is blacker.

This day the sword reached the priests of the second order, the fire consumed and burned, and they cried aloud, but there was none to help them; for some fell into the fire, and some before the enemy’s sword; they then knew that it was thus decreed before Him who resided in the thorn-bush, “That the stones of the sanctuary should be poured out at the corners of every street.”

Their visage is blacker...

Children were brought out hungry, naked, and bare-footed; they asked for bread, but where was it? They fainted for thirst; they supplicated those who took them captive; but they were cruel dissemblers; and being thus destitute of bread, they earnestly implored the mercy of their Former; thus the children fainted for hunger, at the corner of every street.

Their visage is blacker...

God had bent his bow, and wounded all these; there was none to answer to the voice of entreaty on the day when he began and finished the destruction; children then bent like lambs their necks to those who slew them; the streets of the holy city he filled with the blood of his saints, and the bodies of both young and old lay on the ground in the streets.

Translation: Levi 1793

(Strophes 1–4)

Cast out from their delightful house, my soul fainteth for her slain;

My heart! My heart is stricken for those who were murdered; my bowels! My bowels are in pain for those who were massacred.

On the day that the virgins were driven out of their palaces; and the mothers were bereaved of their children; they were stripped naked by the hands of the spoiler; they sorely lamented on the day that the yoke was fixed on them instead of their former ornaments; thus were they carried into captivity by the conquering sword.

My heart! My heart...

The ear is stunned by the cry of the wounded; even of the cry of the babes and sucklings, on the day that their blood was shed as dung, the house of prayer profaned to the very earth; the book of the law rolled in blood, and the face of its students put to shame.

My heart! My heart...

Alas! For the day that my babes were dashed against the rocks, my remnant scattered, and hitherto not collected; when the people blasphemed the name of my God, profaned my glory, and made my sanctuary an abomination: the day that the young lions pursued me, and my heart melted within me, at their roaring voice.

My heart! My heart...

Ev'ke v'al shod z'vulai
Translation: Leeser 1837

(Strophes 1, 2, 4, 5):

I will weep! and for the desolation of my dwelling with floods of streaming tears my eyes shall overflow; woe is me!

I will weep! and for the desolation of my dwelling...

I will weep for the holy land devastated by the hand of the enemy, possessed by Ishmaelites and Hagarenes; my inferiors, they who were vile in my eyes are now my inheritors; they possess the beautiful dwellings of all my borders: woe is me!

I will weep! and for the desolation of my dwelling...

I will weep for the tables and ark, and the plate, the crown of Aaron; for the ephod and stones of memorial; the bells on the skirts of the priestly robes, that are entirely destroyed; alas! the voice of wailing hath passed over my melodious psalteries; woe is me!

I will weep! and for the desolation of my dwelling...

I will weep for the desk and court; the table and pure candlestick; the breastplate, ephod, and precious stones; where are the sheep and rams, that atoned for me for the power of heinous offences? woe is me!

I will weep! and for the desolation of my dwelling...

Heikhal adonai
Translation: Leeser 1837

The temple of the Lord! the temple of the Lord! the temple of the Lord! its busy throng is gone, because of the multitude of my presumptuous sins.

The temple of the Lord! the temple...

On the day that from the holy place my cherub departed, I will cry out wo! for the time of my grief; my heart melteth from the strength of my pain; my countenance exhibits meagerness for the greatness of my iniquities, and sounds of dread assail my ears.

The temple of the Lord! the temple...

My Protector when I sinned destroyed my glory: from on high unto the earth he hath cast my crown; from intense woe the hairs of my body stand erect; waters of gall and wormwood have become to me streams of delight; my sun too hath been changed to darkness before my eyes.

The temple of the Lord! the temple...

The enemies planned devices, and threw lots against me; many myriads died in dread of the terror of the sword; he led to slaughter my Levites and priests, the people of God, of old sanctified at Sinai.

The temple of the Lord! the temple...

When wilt thou comfort thy mourning children? when wilt thou restore the remnant of the chosen ones to Zion? Yea, from there remove all false worship; and then will I exclaim, when thou, O Lord! cuttest off thy enemies, “How great are thy works, O Lord!”

The temple of the Lord! the temple...

Bore ad ana
Translation: Leeser 1837

(Strophes 1–5):

Creator! How long shall thy dove remain in the toils of the fowler’s snare? She is afflicted and humbled, and lonely sitting, deprived of her children, she calleth to thee, O my father!

My father, O my father! Lonely sitting, deprived of her children, she calleth to thee, O my father!

The dove driven from her nest now wandereth about, exposed day and night to frost and heat; she dreadeth the destroying sword, and the lioness’ teeth, Lord!

My father, O my father...

When thou didst surrender her into the hands of the spoiler he devoured her, as it were to the neck without mercy; many years have since then passed, yet summer and winter I bear the yoke of my enemy.

My father, O my father...

O who would give her wings like eagles, to fly on the hills, and to leap over mountains, to come to her beloved into the sacred chambers; then I could forget my grief.

My father, O my father...

Cruel aliens take council against her, she is afflicted, because they have weakened her by a heavy yoke with scorn and shame, whereat my pain is great.

My father, O my father...

Shirat hayyam (Biblical Cantillation)
Exodus 14:26–31; 15: 1–10
Translation: Alexander 1785

And the Lord said unto Moses, stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon  the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared, and the Egyptians fled against it: and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea....

Aḥot k'tanna
Poem: Abraham Hazan Gerondi
Translation: Pinto 1761

The Congregation of Israel hath set her Prayers in Order, chanting Hymns of Praise. Be graciously pleased, O God, to heal her Infirmities.

The Year being ended, may all the Evils thereof be terminated.

Thy People invoke Thee with pleasant Words, together with Songs of Praise: For unto Thee alone do they appertain. O how long wilt thou shut thine Eyes, when behold Aliens are continually devouring their Inheritance.

The Year being ended, may all...

Feed thy Sheep whom the Lions have dispersed, and pour forth thine Indignation on those, who after having destroyed the Holy Temple, erected by thy Right Hand, without leaving any Traces thereof, would also exterminate them.

The Year being ended, may all...

When wilt thou, O Lord, raise thy Daughter from this Dungeon? O when wilt thou deliver her from this dismal Prison! and go forth as a mighty Captain miraculously in her Favour, utterly to destroy those who intend her Extirpation.

The Year being ended, may all...

Aseret haddibb'rot (Biblical Cantillation) (The Ten Articles of the Sinaitic Covenant)
Exodus 20:2–17

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing, that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me:
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.
But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy
God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill [murder].
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Haftarat vayikra (Biblical cantillation)
Translation: Alexander 1785

A. Preliminary benediction

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God! King of the universe, that hath chosen good Prophets, and with pleasure declared to them the truth: blessed art thou, O Lord! who gaveth the law to Moses thy servant, to Israel thy people, and to the true and righteous Prophets.

B. Excerpt from Haftara: Isaiah 43:21–26

Et sha'arei ratzon
Poem: Yehuda Abbas (12th century, Fez and Aleppo)
Translation: Leeser 1863

(Strophes 1–2):

At this hour, when thou the gates of favour wilt open! on this day, when I stretch forth my hands to thee, O God! do thou remember unto me, on this day of trial, the offering father, the son whom he bound, and the altar. After having proved his faith, he was tried at the tenth time, when he was told, Arise! take thy son, born  to thee of Sarah, even if thy soul be to the utmost bound up in him, and sacrifice him to me as a pure burnt-offering on the mountain, where glory unto  thee will shine. O remember the offering father...

Haftarat t'tzave (Biblical Cantillation)
Excerpt: Ezekiel 43:10–15



Composer: Amsterdam|Western Sephardi Tradition

Length: 45:19
Genre: Liturgical

Performers: Neil Levin, Conductor;  Ira Rohde, Cantor;  Schola Hebraeica, Donald Barnum, chorus master

Date Recorded: 07/01/2001
Venue: New West End Synagogue (B), London, UK
Engineer: Bertram Kornacher and Morgan Roberts
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Levin, Neil

Additional Credits:

Choral Preparation: Jonathan Fluker

Translation Sources:

Pinto 1761 - Pinto, Isaac. Evening Service for Roshashanah [sic] and Yom Kippur. New York: Weyman, 1761.

Pinto 1766 - Pinto, Isaac. Prayers for Shabbat, Rosh-Hashanah, and Yom Kippur According to the Order of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. New York: John Holt, 1765–66.

Alexander 1785 - Alexander, A. HAMISHA HUMSHEI TORAH V’HAFTAROT: The Five Books of Moses. London: A. Alexander & Son, 1785.

Levi 1793 - Levi, David. The Form of Prayer for the Fast Days According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. London: W. Justins, 1793–94.

Leeser 1837 - Leeser, Isaac. The Form of Prayer for the Fast Days According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. Philadelphia: Haswell, Barrington, Haswell, 1837.

Leeser 1856 - Leeser, Isaac. TORAH NEVI’IM U’KHETUVIM: The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures; Carefully Translated According to the Masoretic Text, on the Basis of the English Version, After the Best Jewish Authorities. Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 1856–57.

Leeser 1863 - Leeser, Isaac. The Form of Prayer According to the Customs of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. Vol. 2 (New Year service). Philadelphia: Slote & Mooney, 1863.

Leeser 1866 - Leeser, Isaac. Services for the Fast Days According to the Sephardi Tradition. London: Society of Heshaim (New York: Shearith Israel), 1866.

Leeser 1867 - Leeser, Isaac. The Form of Prayer for the Fast Days According to the Custom of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. 4th ed. (reprint of 1837 edition) Philadelphia: Slote and Mooney, 1867.


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