Posted to the Ethnos Project by on August 16th, 2016

This paper focuses on the impact of technology (computers, the Internet, iPods) on the transmission of oral tradition, specifically the cantillation of the Torah, in the contemporary Jewish community. The highly detailed and musically nuanced public recitation of the Torah require that the reader memorize both the pronunciation of unvocalized Hebrew text and the taamei hamikra (cantillation marks) that indicate the musical motif applied to each word of scripture. Learning Torah cantillation is a key component of the bar/bat mitzvah ritual. Other cultures have rites de passage that require one to endure physical pain or danger. In Judaism–as one cantor expressed–“You have to sing your way in.” In addition, in many congregations across denominational lines, busy lay congregants spend hours every week preparing to “read Torah,” which is the term applied to chanting scripture, at Sabbath services. Many understand this proper performance of sacred text as a way to position themselves at the core of authentic religious experience.

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