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Adar Rishon - an extra month to prepare for Purim and The Art of Chanting the Megillah! 

02/13/2024 12:08:37 PM


I love Jewish leap years. Yay! As both an educator and a Cantor I have a whole extra month to prepare! And I am not referring to baking hamentashen (although, yes, that too). When it is not a Jewish leap year, the late winter and early spring holidays come one month apart and it feels like quick succession. Tu Bishvat is followed exactly one month later by Purim followed exactly one month later by Pesach... but, this year we have two months between Tu Bishvat and Purim. Yay! A few extra weeks to prepare our students for Purim and review my own megillah reading. 

Speaking about Megillah reading...  Megillat Esther has its unique trope melody not used for any other book. Megillat Esther includes 10 chapters which are usually scribed in about 16 columns. There are passages which are chanted in the melody of  Lamentations- one must be able to easily move back and forth between the two trope systems.   Some congregations are blessed with individuals who divide up the chapters, but for many years I chanted  the WHOLE MEGILLAH myself. Thankfully, this year I will be sharing the task with Rabbi Rudin. I have already begun reviewing the chapters I will read by meticulously preparing not only the Hebrew but the trope melody as well. This requires quite  a  bit of memorization as the Hebrew vowels and the cantillation markings do not appear in the scroll. Jewish law stipulates that EVERY word must be heard in order to fulfill the mitzvah of HEARING the megillah.  On the other hand, the constant gragerring, impatience and eagerness to get to the next "Haman" exerts alot of pressure on the reader to read very quickly making it challenging for many to follow the Hebrew. The scroll itself, unlike a torah scroll does not have rollers. The reader is expected to fold the megillah leaves under themselves as  he/she reads so it resembles an ancient letter.   

My colleague, Cantor Arianne Brown put together a wonderful series to help people learn how to chant the scroll of Esther, and, you still have some time to check it out! If you want to read a few verses, let me know!  Tricks of the Trope Megillat Esther

So, yes, I am grateful for the "extra" month in between Tu Bishvat and Purim!  



Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784