Hallel - The Eternal Song of Thanksgiving
Hallel is an emotional expedition. Comprising Psalms 113-118 it is generally accredited to David, poet-psalmist of the Jewish People. Together with the young shepherd-king we experience his moments of misery, distress and, ultimately, deliverance. But David is Sweet Singer of Isreal. He sings no soliloquy. Every note, every nuance mirrors the emotions of his people, giving experience to the national odyssey of Am Yisrael, through the bitter exiles and the miraculous salvations. And because always, somehow, salvation does come, Hallel is, in essence, a Song of Praise which, according to the Talmud, was sung throughout history, each generation giving gratitude to G-d for the redemption of their time.
As a prayer, Hallel is recited on Festivals, recalling the miracles of the season. It is a joyful chant which, over the years, has inspired many and varied musical compositions, from the sombre liturgical to the lively and popular. Each in its own way has contributed to create a veritable symphony of song to the great G-d of Israel, praised by all the nations of the world.
In the Johannesburg Jewish Community, Hallel has become the hallmark of the respected and much loved Sydenham Shul choir led by our multi-talented Chazan, Oshy Tugendhaft and conducted by our choirmaster Dr. Malcolm Zaidel. Every Yom Tov sees an increasing number of visitors to our Shul to enjoy their beautiful rendition of this eternal song of thanksgiving. To mark the milestone of a Barmitzvah of years since they have been with the Shul, it was decided to produce a recording of Hallel, with musical arrangements by Dr. Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, the choir's resident accompanist, and thereby share this source of pleasure and inspiration with the wider Jewish community.
So, hold your head high to the exultant triumph of B'tzeit Yisrael, smile at the subtle cynicism of man-made idols in Atzabeihem, let your soul be stirred by Ahavti and may we all forever sing "Give many thanks to Hashem for He is good, His kindness is everlasting."
Rabbi Yossi Goldman
Sydenham-Highlands North Hebrew Congregation
Johannesburg, South Africa