Hassidic Music from the Spielberg Film Archive


“Chant,” or “Tune”? (Schindler’s List opening scene)

Here’s the opening scene of Schindler’s List (1993), which presents viewers with an essential moment in Jewish para-liturgical practice, the qidush (Heb. קידוש, commonly spelled Kiddush), or the blessings recited at the eve of the Sabbath (and of other Holidays, albeit with slightly different texts) around the family table. (Note that the Kiddush is also recited in the synagogue, but that’s another story…).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24fwJMLsyNs]

There are two lines of questions that may arise from (re)watching this scene.

On the one hand, the musical aspect: does this pertain to the musical area we generally defined as “chant,” or to the one we generally defined as “tune” (and what kind of chant/tune it may be, based on our knowledge of musical culture in the Jewish diaspora)?

On the other hand, the layers of meaning (and especially the related musical representations of identity) that this scene may contain: here, ritual is both presented as a symbol (of what?) and as a staged performance. Why was this scene chosen to open Schindler’s List?

What Will Happen on Week 2? (A Week Full of Questions)

Dear class,

To make sure that we start on the right foot, let me go over next week’s assignments. Following our Syllabus, these are:

Week 2 | MON 9/8 & WED 9/10
Dangerous nights: text, music, learning (and the Passover Seder)

READING: Ginzburg 2 (Jews, Heretics, Witches p. 63-80);  EJ Passover; Idelsohn XIV (Haggadah p. 173-187)
LISTENING: Malavsky Family Passover Seder Service; The Socalled Seder
RESOURCES: Magnes Haggadah collection; sefaria.org (Pesach Haggadah, esp. section 5)

What you are expected to do is:

Reading assignments: read them (they are all on bCourses)… (Ginzburg is mostly background; EJ and Idelsohn are technical and a key to understand listening assignments and resources).

Listening assignments:

The Malavsky Family Passover Seder Service is online (link provided above and in the electronic syllabus, and also here: http://faujsa.fau.edu/malavsky/malavsky_playlist.php?jsa_num=400467&queryWhere=jsa_num&queryValue=400467)

Here’s an “old but good” film featuring the Malavsky family (whose debut concert took place in San Francisco, but that is another story…):

The Socalled Seder is available on bCourses. You can find a lot online about DJ Socalled (aka Josh Dolgin), one of my favorite Canadians:

In listening to both sets of recordings, try to match the section of the Haggadah (as described in the reading assignments, especially Idelsohn) with what you are listening to.


The Haggadah collection is at The Magnes, and we will explore select titles between Monday and (most likely) Wednesday.

An open source text of the actual text of the Passover Haggadah is available online via sefaria.org (use the search box, or go to this link: http://www.sefaria.org/Pesach_Haggadah?nav_query=Haggadah): explore the site, and go to section 5. You’ll see that you can visualize the text in Hebrew, English, and in both languages. Look up the word “night” (in the English section, perhaps by doing a word search through your browser) and see where that takes you…

Ask questions!!!

Write down your questions, and ask them in class. After all, the entire “section 5” (known in Hebrew as magid, the “telling” of the story of the Exodus from Egypt) is all about questions, and, perhaps, about answers…

I hope you have a fantastic weekend!