Sunday, April 13, 2008

Echad Mi Yode'a from Syra in Judeo-Arabic

Every Pesach I try to convince my wife that I am actually Sephardic, and thus we should be able to eat rice and kitniyot on Pesach.  (I was spoiled by the one year we went to Jerusalem during Pesach and realized I could just walk into Supersol, pretend I was Mizrahi and buy a container of the best hummos I've ever had. Now, that was heaven - on matzah.)  Well, each year she doesn't buy it.  With the first seder on motzei Shabbat this year, the kitchen is about to be turned upside down so she can start cooking.  I may have to keep my bagels in the basement freezer this week, thaw them with a hairdryer and eat them in the car.  I do try to incorporate as many Sephardic melodies into the seder as I can, along with songs from Israel, Russia, Germany, Italy and the USA.  This amazing version of Echad Mi Yode'a from Syria has an incredible back story that you can read about on my web site, here.  The printed lyrics in Hebrew/Judeo-Arabic are here (page 1; page 2) and in transliteration (slightly different wording) here.  No other melody gets me into the mood for the seders like this one. It has a beat that may as well be trance music - it's hard to explain but it really moves me. Singing it after four cups of wine, I don't hold back.  (Hint: it's a good way to clear out the last few lingering guests.) The wonderful old gentleman who recorded this, Avraham Malki, z"l, taught me how to say "Hazak U'varuch" (the Sephardic equivalent of "Baruch Tih'ye") and it stuck.  That's what I say all the time in response to the ubiquitous "Yashar Koach" in shul. So, maybe I do have Sephardic blood in me after all. 


Ellen said...

I hope you're planning on teaching this version of the song to everyone at HN this year:). I, for one, would welcome learning it!

Jeff said...

Nice idea, but I wouldn't want to sing anything in Arabic without coaching from someone who knows the language. If there's an HN (Hava Nashira) attendee who speaks Arabic (maybe someone on the listserve?) then we could give it a try!