Showing posts from April, 2018

A Historically Informed "Echad Mi Yodea"

Every year at Passover, my family, at the end of the seder, sings the three traditional songs that accompany it. Or we attempt to at any rate. We do a decent job with "Chad Gadya," for which we all basically agree on the tune. And we manage to stumble through "Adir Hu" alright too, as we generally agree on the lack of tune. But "Echad Mi Yodea" gives us particular trouble, and we end up going back and forth between a couple of "tunes" and eventually force our way through the thirteen ever-lengthening verses. It's a sort of Jewish "The Twelve Days Of Christmas," but worse because it goes to thirteen.
This year I decided to do some research and settle this matter once and for all. I found some work done by acclaimed Jewish musicologist Cantor Yokannan Ze'ev in the eighties in conjunction with Marshall College. The study, directed by Rabbi Sholom ben Arnold, and conducted in Egypt by Doctor Henry Jones Jr. was focused on archeolo…