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Purim Medley

By Jeremiah Lockwood

Published Feb 21, 2023



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Purim Medley by Jeremiah Lockwood

In this video, I flow around between different moments in my musical life, all centered on the Jewish carnival of Purim.  


The first melody heard is Haynt iz Purim, a song based on an Abraham Goldfaden (1840-1908) musical theater number repurposed as a children’s holiday song by Yiddish poet Mordekhai Rivesman (1868-1924). I learned it off a rare radio bootleg of the great and little-known khazente Perele Feig, who has been the center of a lot of my research in the last year or so.


Next, I jump to a Ladino folk song called Alevanta Mordekhai, a text that offers encouragement to the Biblical hero Mordechai in the midst of the unfolding drama in ancient Shushan. The singer of the song says they will bathe him and trim his beard to ready him for the momentous day of reckoning before the king. I learnt the piece from Jewlia Eisenberg, and we played it together on at least one occasion in our Book of J duo.


The final song in this medley is a piece I learned from Cantor Shimmy Miller and that I arranged for string quartet for him to perform at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival last summer. This version of the Purim piyut Shoshanes Yaakov was composed by Shimmy’s grandfather, Cantor Aron Miller (1911–2000). It is a popular song that is a still a staple of Hasidic choir repertoire. According to Shimmy’s dad, the beloved Cantor Benzion Miller, his father, composed the song on a late-night train ride through Germany in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust.


Then I get back into Haynt iz Purim for a little more of a good time.


Jeremiah Lockwood is a scholar and musician, working in the fields of Jewish studies, performance studies and ethnomusicology. He is the founder of the band The Sway Machinery and is currently a Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. His work engages with issues arising from peeri...


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Purim is the holiday of masks and hidden identities. What’s the connection between chosen identities and good times? Do you think it’s easier to have fun when no one knows who you are?  

Purim melodies 

Is Purim a musical holiday for you? What songs do you know that are special for the holiday? 

History in a song 

Each of these songs tell a story, or have complicated and fascinating histories attached to it. What’s the connection between history and a song? Can you hear the past when someone sings today? 

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