Prelude for Organ (Ben Steinberg) 08:44
Organ Prelude #6 (Ernest Bloch) 02:46
L'khu n'ran'na (Herbert Fromm) 01:46
Adonai malakh (Julius Chajes) 02:43
Mizmor shir ladonal shir hadash (Heinrich Schalit) 03:17
L'kha dodi (Isadore Freed) 03:00
Hassidic Interlude (Herbert Fromm) 01:57
Bar'khu (Max Helfman) 00:48
Ahavat olam (Frederick Jacobi) 03:11
Sh'ma yisra'el (Max Helfman) 01:12
V'ahavta (Heinrich Schalit) 02:04
Who is Like unto Thee? (Mi khamokha, Max Helfman) 02:22
V'shamru (Heinrich Schalit) 02:05
Yism'hu (Hugo Chaim Adler) 01:35
Hashkivenu (Max Helfman) 05:02
Magen avot (Hugo Chaim Adler) 02:00
R'tze (Sabbath Madrigal, Herbert Fromm) 01:58
Grant us Peace (Shalom rav, Herbert Fromm) 02:51
I Will Lift Up My Eyes (Psalm 121, Isadore Freed) 02:24
May the Words (Isadore Freed) 01:33
"Adoration" (Julius Chajes) 01:44
Kiddush (Hugo Chaim Adler) 03:28
Adon Olam (Abraham Wolf Binder) 02:13
Postlude (Isadore Freed) 02:03

Liner Notes

The time frame represented and typified by this composite American Reform Sabbath eve synagogue service is the postwar period from the mid-to-late 1940s through much of the 1970s. That period preceded the erosion of the stately formality that had been emblematic of Reform worship and its ambience; and it predated the trend toward more relaxed musical expression, nonclassical vocal approaches, and the expanded if not ultimately overshadowing role of enthusiastic communal singing in pseudo-folk or pseudo-pop styles—all of which had gained widespread traction by the last decade of the 20th century.

By the 1950s and 1960s—depending on the leanings and orientations of individual congregations—the aesthetics, along with some of the principles of classical Reform, had already shown signs of transition. Throughout these decades this direction gathered momentum. The hegemony of classical Reform’s musical dimensions (see more in the introduction to Volume 1), which by then could have been acknowledged as long since antiquated but had barely begun on a path to obsolescence in the immediate prewar years, now loosened its grip at a rapidly accelerating pace in favor of new music of far higher merit and originality. To some extent that process began when the settings of such composers as Abraham Wolf Binder and Lazare Saminsky, whose talent outweighed that of even their most popular predecessors, first challenged the musical habits and tastes of classical Reform in the late 1920s and early 1930s. But for a long time, for the most part, their influence was confined primarily to synagogues in the Greater New York area and the Eastern Seaboard, and perhaps a small number of receptive congregations elsewhere. Even then, until the 1940s at the earliest, their music mostly served as punctuation for the otherwise established repertoire of classical Reform.

By the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s there were still some die-hard, nostalgia-addicted congregations across the United States (albeit dwindling in number) that were loath or otherwise unable to free themselves from nearly a half century’s worth of classical Reform’s accumulated musical cobwebs. They were thus delayed in their introduction to the exciting new styles of liturgical expression. Typically, though not exclusively, such congregations were to be found in the South and in Texas, where, in a relatively few cases, the old and severely outdated musical habits lingered on well past the 1970s.

On the other hand, there were a few congregations in these regions that had been equally bound to classical Reform but made the transition more swiftly and with less pain of separation. Nearly always, they owed their expedited surrender of classical Reform repertoire and their simultaneous appreciation of higher standards to visionary and diplomatically persuasive music directors. Perhaps the most celebrated case in point is Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, where the young composer, conductor, and Harvard graduate Samuel Adler arrived on the scene in 1953. His father, Hugo Chaim Adler, the erudite cantor of Mannheim’s principal Liberale synagogue and a highly respected composer within the prewar German cultural milieu before immigrating with his family to America following Kristallnacht, had inspired in him a lifelong enthusiasm for and commitment to serious synagogue music. Under the younger Adler’s direction, Emanu-El quickly became a showcase for the postwar course of music for Reform worship. In choice of repertoire as well as artistic direction, its Sabbath services were very much like the one presented on this recording—especially before Adler began introducing his own music as part of a seamless continuum.

At the same time, a handful of individual Reform congregations remained wedded—in some cases almost monogamously—to the music of “favorite son” composers who were, or had been, their music directors: Temple De Hirsch (now De Hirsch Sinai) in Seattle, for example, with regard to Samuel Goldfarb, whose music and even his name is now barely known elsewhere but still revered within that congregation; or KAM Isaiah Israel in Chicago, where, during Max Janowski’s tenure of more than fifty years as music director (with the honorary title of cantor), not a single note by any other composer for any part of the liturgy or any service was permitted—a fiat welcomed with pride by the congregation across its generations.

Apart from these exceptions, the predominant musical direction of American Reform worship during the period under consideration here was the artistic as well as spiritual rejuvenation and the move toward an elevated idiom that was born in the prewar years, blossomed shortly afterward, took root by the 1950s, and is reflected in the music selected for this recording—albeit within the limits of a single illustrative service. (Many more examples are found throughout Volume 4 of this Milken Archive series.) This music and its overall soundscape exemplify a development that owed much to European émigré composers, all but two of whom were refugees either directly or indirectly from the Third Reich, who centered their creativity around the synagogue after arriving in America. The trend was also driven by the contributions of such American-born composers as, on this recording, Binder—whose output proliferated during the period and increasingly became part of the standard repertoire—and Frederick Jacobi, whose primary focus lay outside the liturgical realm but whose important Hebrew prayer settings (including an entire service, excerpts of which are found in Volume 7) entered the synagogue music mainstream.

Most significantly, this development constituted a uniquely American Jewish phenomenon that benefited immeasurably from the encouragement and support of sympathetic Reform rabbis of the time. It was an ebullient religious-cultural and artistic renascence that by all accounts was well received throughout its duration—until the 1970s, when it came gradually under assault from a variety of internal as well as external sociocultural influences and trends. Until then, the level of the music, together with the overall ambience it fostered, resonated with the aggregate sensibilities of two if not three generations of Reform worshippers of that time. For them, music of this degree of sophistication represented the proper mood for prayer, meditation, reflection, and spiritual experience. And they found it correspondingly uplifting, stimulating, and, where appropriate to the occasion or a particular prayer text, majestically joyous in keeping with contemporaneous expectations of synagogal dignity and grandeur.

The musical characteristics and properties of that renascence period are discussed briefly in the introduction to Volume 4. They and the episode itself are addressed more fully and from firsthand experience in an essay by Samuel Adler in a volume edited by Jascha Nemtsov, Jüdische Musik als Dialog der Kulturen / Jewish Music as a Dialogue of Cultures (Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2013).

Despite the later-20th- and early-21st-century neglect of this important chapter in American Jewish cultural progress—and even its total abandonment in some cases—there are recent signs of renewed interest in its contemporary value, especially as part of a wider, balanced repertoire that may include less formal and less sophisticated music as well. Moreover, some of the settings by these composers have remained secure in the repertoires of Reform congregations throughout the United States and Canada. Adler, however, has justifiably referred to the movement and phenomenon that spawned most of the music on this recording as an “aborted renaissance”—because the optimism of those heady days within modern American Jewish music circles was so relatively short-lived. Referring to a movement that was expected to live, grow, and develop further, the metaphor is, sadly, probably apt. Composers in the second decade of the 21st century who might wish to follow in the footsteps of Fromm, Freed, Schalit, Adler, et al. would not likely be encouraged by the American Reform leadership when it comes to music for practical synagogue use. Yet we ought never to dismiss the potential among the rank and file for receptivity and appreciation of artistic quality. And the relevance of artistic quality to the meaning of the words in the liturgy can be a matter of education. In any case, the sheer beauty of much of this music can speak for itself. 

This service follows the design, content, and order of the 1954 “newly revised edition” of the 1940 edition of the Union Prayerbook for Jewish Worship (UPB). Fashioned, created, and originally published in 1894–95 by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)—the rabbinical arm of the Reform movement—(preceded by a preliminary but quickly discarded 1892 version that is not considered the original publication date), it underwent various revisions in subsequent editions in which the proportion of Hebrew to English was gradually increased. These editions also restored certain ceremonies and ceremonial references that had been omitted deliberately from the earlier editions and from the early decades of classical Reform worship—in practice as well as in principle. By 1954, the “newly revised” edition had already departed in some ways radically from classical Reform in the amount of Hebrew and the emphasis thereon, in its reintroduction of various ritual observances (albeit modified), and in its referenced links to tradition in the English parts.

During the time frame addressed by this recording, the Union Prayerbook remained the de facto “official” prayerbook of American Reform worship—notwithstanding a few exceptions whereby individual congregations and their rabbis might have preferred an alternative one out of theological (or anti-theological), generational, or other habit-driven considerations. It should be emphasized that Reform congregations, like their Conservative and Reconstructionist movement as well as orthodox counterparts, are autonomous. Thus neither the CCAR nor the lay arm of the Reform movement, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, possessed or exercised enforceable authority with regard to choice of prayerbook—nor, for that matter, over other religious or even political issues. But, with the exception of those who might have received ordination elsewhere, nearly all Reform rabbis in this time frame had been wedded to the Union Prayerbook from their years in rabbinical school if not earlier; and they viewed it as the most desirable vehicle for prayer and as a sine qua non of what was (and frequently still is) articulated as “Reform Judaism.” Moreover, its eloquent English translations and readings served them well in their pulpits. Unless there were specific reasons to choose otherwise, the American Reform rabbinate of that time followed almost automatically the CCAR’s and the UAHC’s vision of a nationally unified monolithic service format that could be provided by a single exclusive prayerbook common to all congregations.

Notwithstanding the self-mandated mission of the Reform movement’s architects to modernize, prune, and streamline, the Union Prayerbook (even its early editions) drew heavily and substantively on the established traditional liturgy as well as on other Judaic sources. But in addition to text modifications as well as adjustments to their traditional order, it offered truncated versions of each service. The purposes and process of abbreviation involved not only the excision of elements and references deemed archaic, unnecessarily repetitive, irrelevant, or otherwise incompatible with Reform principles, but also the provision of compressed, condensed, concise, and—especially by comparison with the traditional seder t’fillot (order of prayers)—brief forms of prayer experience and rendition.

Another, related consideration was the centrality of the sermon, often the chief attraction for many congregants (with the topic frequently announced in posted bulletins), which could occupy the greater part of the total allotted time and around which both the recited and the sung liturgy was rendered.

The Reform Sabbath eve service—which in most Reform synagogues then still served as the principal occasion for communal Sabbath worship (in many, the only regularly held Sabbath service)—was consistent with what had come to be called the “late Friday evening service.” This refers to the fact of its occurrence (presumably) “after dinner,” and at the same regularly scheduled time each week (typically eight or eight-thirty p.m.), regardless of the actual commencement of the Sabbath according to the weekly changing time of sundown (which, in winter, could precede the synagogue service by as much as four hours)—rather than ushering in the Sabbath prior to partaking of the Sabbath eve meal according to traditional observance. (Many if not most Conservative movement congregations also followed that American innovation, for similarly practical reasons, though usually without abbreviating the rendition of the traditional liturgy.)

The traditional sundown service would not normally include a sermon. But the formal, ceremonious nature of the late Friday evening service—especially as the primary and best-attended (if not exclusive) Sabbath service—made it the expected and desired occasion for a full-fledged sermon as a centerpiece.

Thus, in the spirit of succinctness but without intended detriment to the liturgical component, the Sabbath eve liturgy of the Union Prayerbook is divided into five shorter alternate services (labeled I – V), all under the plural heading “Evening Services for the Sabbath.” Each one features certain prayers and related b’rakhot that are omitted in the others, while some prayers are common to all five. Similarly so with English readings.

Typically, these five alternate services would be rotated—a procedure that, in addition to making for less lengthy services, also provided variety from week to week.

The Union Prayerbook also merged the otherwise distinct kabbalat shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) service with the actual Sabbath eve service (arvit l’shabbat). The kabbalat shabbat service, which in traditional observance precedes the evening service and begins before sundown and therefore before the Sabbath itself—which is not so identified in the Union Prayerbook—consists of eight Psalm texts and one later kabbalistic poem (l’kha dodi). Each of the five alternate services in the prayerbook included only one of these nine components—in each case as the opening liturgical rendition. The other four are absent altogether.

The choice of which of the five alternate services to employ for any one Friday evening was made in advance by the rabbi and communicated to the choirmaster and/or cantor (or decided jointly, depending upon the nature of the collegial relationships). There was nothing to prevent “mixing and matching,” however, in the form of electing to include parts of two or more of the alternate services. All that would have been required to alert the congregation and avoid confusion was the announcement of page numbers (“We turn now to page . . .”).

In that spirit and with that possibility in mind, the present recording was designed to replicate musically a “special” Sabbath eve service in which, for any number of reasons, the liturgical settings could have been expanded beyond any single alternate service: an anniversary or other congregational or community celebration; what was called an installation of a newly engaged rabbi or cantor; the synagogal component of an annual interfaith pair of services, whereby a local Christian congregation might be invited to attend a Sabbath eve service of a particular synagogue whose members were in turn invited to attend a service at that church the following Sunday, sometimes with co-participation of the clergy of both; or an annual service devoted to showcasing music, usually on a Sabbath during what was designated by the now defunct National Jewish Music Council of the Jewish Welfare Board as “Jewish Music Month,” scheduled around shabbat shira (the Sabbath of song)—the annual Sabbath on which the serially designated portion read (chanted) from the Torah includes the “Song at the Sea [of Reeds]” (shirat hayam: Exodus XV:1–21). Included in this recording, for example, are a setting of hashkivenu, which occurs only in service IV, and one of ahavat olam, which occurs only in service I. Of the five kabbalat shabbat texts included among the five alternate services—one per service—four are represented here.

Two cantors sharing the pulpit and co-officiating at a single service—in this case, one a tenor and the other a baritone—is, of course, atypical. Yet it is hardly without precedent in the context of any of the aforementioned special occasions or, in this particular regard, perhaps a joint service offered by two congregations.

Ashkenazi Hebrew is preserved in this recording, as it was virtually the universal practice in American Reform during most of this time frame. All the composers represented here created their settings according to correct Ashkenazi accentuation and pronunciation.

By: Neil W. Levin



Sung in Hebrew and English


O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us chant to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout for joy unto Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods; in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are His also.  The sea is His and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us bow down and bend the knee; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the flock of His hand.


The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad. Clouds and darkness are round about Him; righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne. The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples behold His glory. Zion heareth and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice; because of Thy judgments, O Lord. O ye that love the Lord, hate evil; He preserveth the souls of His saints; He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Be glad in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks to his holy name.


O sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvelous things; His right hand, and His holy arm, hath wrought salvation for Him. The Lord hath made known His salvation; His righteousness hath He revealed in the sight of the nations. He hath remembered His mercy and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout unto the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yea, sing praises. Sing praises unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp and the voice of melody. With trumpets and sound of the horn before the Lord, for He is come to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.


Beloved, come, the bride to meet,
The Princess Sabbath let us greet.

Come, to the Sabbath greetings bring,
For it is blessing’s constant spring:
Of old ordained, divinely taught,
Last in creation, first in thought.

Beloved, come the bride to meet,
The Sabbath Princess let us greet.

Arouse thyself, awake and shine,
Thy light has come, the light divine,
Awake and sing, and over thee
The glory of the Lord shall be.

Beloved, come, the bride to meet,
The Sabbath Princess let us greet.

Crown of thy husband, come in peace;
Let joy and gladsome song increase.
Among His faithful, sorrow-tried,
His chosen people, ---come, O bride.

Beloved, come, the bride to meet,
The Sabbath Princess let us greet.


Praise ye the Lord, to whom all praise is due

Praise be the Lord to whom all praise is due forever and ever.


Infinite as is Thy power, even so is Thy love.  Thou didst manifest it through Israel, Thy people. By laws and commandments, by statutes and ordinances has Thou led us in the way of righteousness and brought us to the light of truth.  Therefore at our lying down and our rising up, we will meditate on Thy teachings and find in Thy laws true life and length of days. O that Thy love may never depart from our hearts. Praised be Thou, O Lord, who has revealed Thy love through Israel.


Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord in One. 
Praised be His name whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever


Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart. Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt speak of them when thou sittest in thy house, when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. Thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of thy house and upon thy gates: [That ye may remember and do all My commandments and be holy unto your God.]


Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the mighty?
Who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness,
Awe-inspiring, working wonders?

When Thy children beheld Thy sovereign power, they exclaimed:

“This is our God!” and said:

“The Lord Shall reign for forever and ever.”


The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever.

Praised by Thou, O Lord, God of our fathers, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, great, mighty, and exalted.  Thou bestowest lovingkindness upon all Thy children. Thou rememberest the devotion of the fathers. In Thy love, Thou bringest redemption to their descendants for the sake of Thy name. Thou art our King and Helper, our Savior and Protector.  Praised by Thou, O Lord, Shield of Abraham.

Eternal is Thy power, O Lord, Thou art mighty to save. In lovingkindness Thou sustainest the living; in the multitude of Thy mercies, Thou preservest all. Thou upholdest the falling and healest the sick; freest the captives and keepest faith with Thy children in death as in life.  Who is like unto Thee, Almighty God, Author of life and death, Source of salvation? Praised be Thou, O Lord, who hast implanted within us eternal life.

Thou art holy, Thy name is holy and Thy worshipers proclaim Thy holiness. Praised be Thou, O Lord, the holy God.


They who keep the Sabbath and call it a delight, rejoice in Thy kingdom. All who hallow the seventh day shall be gladdened by Thy goodness. This day is Israel’s festival of the spirit, sanctified and blessed by Thee, the most precious of days, a symbol of the joy of creation.


Cause us, O Lord our God, to lie down each night in peace, and to awaken each morning to renewed life and strength. Spread over us as the tabernacle of Thy peace. Help us to order our lives by Thy counsel, and lead us in the paths of righteousness. Be Thou a shield about us, protecting us from hate and war, from pestilence and sorrow. Curb Thou also within us the inclination to do evil, and shelter us beneath the shadow of Thy wings. Guard our going out and our coming in unto life and peace from this time forth and for evermore.


Thou shield of the fathers, protector of their children, revivest our drooping spirits.
The holy God, beyond compare, giveth rest to His people on His holy Sabbath Day.
We will serve Him with reverence, and offer thanks To His name continually.
To Him our thanks are due; He is the Lord of peace, Who halloweth the Sabbath and blesseth it.
He sanctifieth our worship, and filleth our hearts With joy.


Our God and God of our fathers, grant that our worship on this Sabbath be acceptable to Thee. Sanctify us through Thy commandments that we may share in the blessings of Thy word. Teach us to be satisfied with the gifts of Thy goodness and gratefully to rejoice in all Thy mercies. Purify our hearts that we may serve Thee in truth. O help us to preserve the Sabbath as Israel’s heritage from generation to generation, that it may bring rest and joy, peace and comfort to the dwellings of our brethren, and through it Thy name be hallowed in all the earth. Praised by Thou, O Lord, who sanctifiest the Sabbath.


Grant us peace, Thy most precious gift, O Thou eternal source of peace, and enable Israel to be its messenger unto the peoples of the earth. Bless our country that it may ever be a stronghold of peace, and its advocate in the council of nations. May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes. Strengthen the bonds of friendship and fellowship among the inhabitants of all lands. Plant virtue in every soul, and may the love of Thy name, hallow every home and every heart.  Praised be Thou, O Lord, Giver of peace.


I will life mine eyes to the hills: when cometh my help?
My help cometh from the Lord, who made [the] heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved;
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
His Lord is thy keeper;
The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the
moon by night.  The Lord shall keep thee from evil;
He shall keep thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy
Coming in, from this time forth and for evermore,
For ever and evermore.

SILENT PRAYER (or such other prayer as the heart may prompt)

O God, keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile.  Be my support when grief silences my voice and my comfort when woe bends my spirit.  Implant humility in my soul, and strengthen my heart with perfect faith in Thee.  Help me to be strong in temptation and trial and to be patient and forgiving when others wrong me.  Guide me by the light of Thy counsel, that I may ever find strength in Thee, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Amen.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable unto Thee, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


Let us adore the ever-living God, and render praise unto Him who spread out the heavens and established the earth, whose glory is revealed in the heavens above and whose greatness is manifest throughout the world.  He is our God; there is none else.

We bow the head in reverence, and worship the King of kings, the Holy One,  praised be He.


Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine.

Let us praise God with this symbol of joy, and thank Him for the blessings of the past week, for life and strength, for home and love and friendship, for the discipline of our trials and temptations, for the happiness that has come to us out of our labors. Thou hast ennobled us, O God, by the blessings of work, and in love has sanctified us by Sabbath rest and worship as ordained in the Torah.  Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to be hallowed unto the Lord, thy God.


The Lord of all did reign supreme
Ere yet this world was made and formed.
When all was finished by His will,
Then was His name as King proclaimed

And should these forms no more exist,
He still will rule in majesty.
He was, He is, He shall remain;
His glory never shall decrease.

And one is He, and none there is
To be compared or joined to Him.
He ne’er began, and ne'er will end,
To Him belongs dominion’s power.

He is my God, my living God;
To Him I flee when tried in grief;
My banner high, my refuge strong,
Who hears and answers when I call.

My spirit I commit to Him,
My body, too, and all I prize;
Both when I sleep and when I wake,
He is with me, I shall not fear.

1. For this English version of mi khamokha, the composer utilized a translation that differs from that in the Union Prayerbook. Nonetheless, this setting was sung during the time frame of this service primarily in Reform congregations.

2. Although he intended this setting for Reform services, the composer elected to utilize this English translation, which differs in a few details from the one included in the Union Prayerbook.






Composer: Various
Length: 72:34
Genre: Liturgical

Performers: Barbara Harbach, Organ;  Samuel Adler, Conductor;  Robert Bloch, Cantor;  Raphael Frieder, Cantor;  Aaron Miller, Organ;  New York Cantorial Choir;  Benji-Ellen Schiller, Cantor

Date Recorded: 05/01/1998
Venue: Riverside Church (C), New York
Assistant Engineer: Frost, David
Co-Producer: Lazarus, Tom
Project Manager: Adler, Samuel


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