Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kabbalah Kirtan - Echad B'Echad (Jewish Renewal Group Chant)

Yofiyah of Kabbalah KirtanWhew. I've been on the road for work most of this week and will be again all of next week. Right now I'm stuck in the office waiting for some of my engineers to get my demo system installed on my laptop. sigh.

At least the waiting around gives me a minute to write another post. Today I want to share a video of the musician Yofiyah (aka Susan Deikman) leading an interesting form of communal devotional chanting at a Jewish Renewal event. (Sorry, I'm not sure where/when the video was shot). This particular form of chanting, which she calls Kabbalistic Kirtan is heavily influenced by Hindu rituals but adopts and adapts them for Jewish practice. This adaption/adoption reminds me a lot of how the Chassidic community has a history of "redeming" or "finding the spark" in non-Jewish music and making it holy. With the Jewish Renewal community's ties to the Chassidic community mystical approach, it's not surprising to see this sort of musical redeeming flower here as well. Here's Yofiyah's explanation of how Kabbalistic Kirtan works...
"Hebrew Kirtan is an invitation to sing to, with, and ultimately as God. This music and the experience of singing it offer you a direct encounter with God, the Source and Substance of all reality.

Kirtan is the Sanskrit word for ecstatic devotional singing using the repetition of a name or names of God. Like “om,” “mantra,” “karma,” and other Sanskrit words it has entered the English language without translation. In and of itself “kirtan” has no religious content. It is simply the ecstatic devotional singing of God’s name. When sung in Sanskrit using Hindu names for God, kirtan becomes Hindu Kirtan. When sung in Arabic using Moslem names for God, kirtan becomes Sufi Kirtan. When sung in Hebrew using Jewish names for God, kirtan becomes Jewish, Hebrew or Kabbalistic Kirtan. It is not the form that defines the Jewishness of Hebrew Kirtan, but the content.

Hebrew Kirtan is the call and response repetition of sacred Jewish text and Hebrew Names of God. These Names and short phrases are doorways through which you can encounter God. The sound of these Names and phrases, the vibrational quality they establish when chanted aloud, open the small self (mochin d’katnut) to the spacious self (mochin d’gadlut) and allow you to transcend the ego and experience the Divine."
You can get more info about Kabbalah Kirtan, order a CD, or track her events, at Yofiayah's myspace page and her website.

Hat tip to YouTube user JewishRenewal for posting the video. JR has over 50 videos of Jewish Renewal events & music. Check it out.

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