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Torah Trope Part 5 

05/12/2023 06:06:48 PM


     In English the word "trop" or "trope" is used to refer to the system of chanting the Torah, however, in Hebrew we refer to the symbols as "Ta'amay Hamikra", or simply "te'amim".   The word actually means "taste". The melodies are referred to as "n'ginot". We are all familiar with the "n'ginot" that the Lithuanian Jews brought with them when they came to America in the 19th century. In fact, the most common "n'ginot" or melodies used today in our American (ashkenazic) congregations are the Lithuanian melodies. Even so, there are many variations within the Lithuanian tradition. One has to keep in mind that for the most part the system is taught orally.  Many people will adapt the melodies to their own musical capabilities. My etnachta might sound a bit different from yours, it might be more or less elaborate.     

   There are 8 different traditions of chanting the "teamim". They have been identified as: North African (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco); Italian (Rome and the Roman Jewish community of Jerusalem); Sephardic and Portuguese communities of Europe; Western European Ashkenazim (German speaking countries, France, some communities of the Netherlands, and England) and Eastern European Ashkanazim which includes the Lithuanian system that was brought to the US by immigrants in the 1800's.  

   In one of my former synagogues I used to enjoy hearing an elderly gentleman named Manfred read Torah. He  was originally from Germany and  read beautifully in the melody common to Western European Ashkenazim (Germany, France, Netherlands and England).  If  you have been fortunate enough to attend a Sephardic synagogue your ears will hear a completely different system of melodies. 

     No matter what melody you use, consistency is important. The consistency helps the listener understand the different kinds of pauses. Your "end of sentence" melody should be identifiable so I know when you are reading the end of a sentence, etc...  We have about 8 students in the trope class I am teaching on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 PM. You are welcome to join at anytime. Reach out to me      

Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784