May 25, 2013 ~ Shabbat BEHA'ALOTEKHA. Maqam SIGAH.
Welcome to www.pizmonim.com, official home of the Sephardic Pizmonim Project!
Founded September 2002, we aim to preserve the liturgical traditions of Aleppo's Sephardic Jewish community and the surrounding Jewish communities of Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad, Jerusalem, and Cairo. Our first project was the "Gabriel A Shrem Pizmonim CDs"; digitalizing all of Shrem's tape recordings. Throughout his life, my great grandfather, Gabriel A Shrem, worked to disseminate Sephardic Hazzanut and Pizmonim to the Syrian Jewish community in New York. The monumental publication of our 'Red Pizmonim Book', "Sefer Shir Ushbaha Hallel VeZimrah" in 1964 by the Sephardic Heritage Foundation, under the auspices of Sam Catton, canonized which pizmonim were to be transmitted to the next generation. This website was initiated by Merkaz, under the leadership of Rabbi Dr Ricky Hidary, and was designed by Sam Franco. Upon hearing that our project needed to record all the pizmonim of the Red Book that were missing from the Gabriel A Shrem collection, Cantor Isaac J Cabasso of Congregation Beth Torah in Brooklyn, New York, took the initiative to record whatever pizmonim were needed; amassing more than 200 recordings on this website. In addition, Morris Arking supplied us with complete access to his pizmonim archive collection from materials dating 1950 onwards. Many melodies of the older pizmonim have been forgotten, but efforts are being made on this website to catalog the various pizmonim found in nineteenth century handwritten manuscripts.
Our "Shir Ushbaha Hallel VeZimrah" (New York, 1964) is an anthology of pre-existing works; mainly "Shirah Hadasha" (Aleppo, 1888) by Raphael Antebi Tabbush, "Shir Ushbaha" (Jerusalem, 1905, 1921) by Raphael Haim Cohen, "Hallel VeZimrah" (Jerusalem, 1928) by Moses Ashear, and "Shirei Zimrah" (Jerusalem, 1936, 1953) by Haim Shaul Aboud. A committee of hazzanim was formed in order to decide which pizmonim were to be included in this publication. Many songs from other books as well as modern Israeli/Arabic songs were included in this publication. This website also includes recordings from the more modern "Shirah Hadasha- HaShalem" (Jerusalem, 2002) pizmonim book, editted by Uri Amram and distributed by Menachem Mustacci.
The goal of the website is to collect recordings of each song in "Shir Ushbaha Hallel VeZimrah". We have 89 remaining missing melodies.
We intend to document and modernize all what we can about the topic of Sephardic Syrian liturgy while attempting to stay true to the basic format of the traditional Pizmonim Book.
It is our deepest hope that this website is used as a tool throughout the world to learn or reconnect with the great unique musical and liturgical heritage of Middle Eastern Jewry. It also goes without say that we hope that this endeavor promotes a deeper appreciation of pizmonim and enhances our experiences during the Shabbat prayer services.
David Matouk Betesh