Nightwords, A Powerful Liturgy On The Holocaust, Now Available With CLAL Commentary On Audiocassette

Double Tape Set Offers Unique CLAL Talks on Memory, Legacy and Ritual: Linking the Past with the Present to Help Commemorate Yom Hashoah

This year, to commemorate Yom Hashoah, CLAL is honored to provide the bold, emotionally gripping piece, NIGHTWORDS: A Liturgy on the Holocaust, on audiocassette.   Compiled by David G. Roskies, Ph.D., the two-tape set includes a recording of the liturgy by CLAL faculty, and two thought-provoking talks on issues raised by the work. On one, Rabbis Yitz Greenberg, CLAL President Emeritus, and Brad Hirschfield, CLAL Vice President, discuss the role of ritual and the Holocaust in light of Jewish philosophy and theology.  On the other, Rabbi Hirschfield, Shari Cohen, Ph.D., Director of CLAL’s Jewish Public Forum, and Richard Schechner, Ph.D., Professor of Performance Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, look at memory, legacy and the intergenerational experience of the Holocaust. 

Acclaimed as one of the most compelling contemporary spiritual responses to the Holocaust, NIGHTWORDS provides a unique, charged experience which speaks to all ages.  Known as both performance art and experiential theater, it weaves together ancient and modern texts to create an unforgettable new community ritual, sparking individual and communal responses that link past events to the spiritual, intellectual and ethical challenges of the present.   

NIGHTWORDS provides a way to understand the Holocaust through the generations,” says Rabbi Hirschfield.  “Much like the Jewish Museum’s exhibit, ‘Mirroring Evil,’ the liturgy moves beyond archive to art.  It asks the audience to become part of the story and to take on the personas of the 36 witnesses – all everyday people – of the horror.  But more than just a memory piece, NIGHTWORDS is experiential – it provides a ritual linking yesterday to today, is steeped in Jewish tradition, and yet is accessible to younger people.” 

The liturgy, as described by Dr. Roskies in his introduction, was created to mark Yom Hashoah – the day of broken covenants.  “It is the day of sanctioned rage against God.”  He calls NIGHTWORDS  “a primer in this art of sacred parody,” and says its purpose is to  “give voice to the outrage, to grant evil its due, and thereby contain it.”  It is intertwined in English, Yiddish and Hebrew, invokes Biblical text, chanting, storytelling, and song, and concludes with the Kaddish – the prayer for the dead. 

On Tape I (105 minutes), CLAL faculty enacts the complete liturgy, playing all of the parts.  The accounts given are true, and the piece bridges time and Biblical and Jewish history – from the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac to the Warsaw uprising.  Participants are asked to interact in new rites created for honoring the Shoah. The tape may be listened to on its own, used as part of a wider ritual, or utilized for demonstration.  It includes all of the songs and prayers, with correct pronunciation in Yiddish and Hebrew, and allows for easy access to the piece.   

On Tape II (60 minutes), on one side, Rabbis Greenberg and Hirschfield discuss NIGHTWORDS, and how it creates new memory and moves beyond traditional Jewish liturgy.  They also address the theological and historical issues related to the creation and performance of the work.   On the other, Drs. Schechner and Cohen and Rabbi Hirschfield discuss the nature of memory and the relationship among liturgy, ritual, theater and art.  The relationship between the individual and collective or shared memory is also debated.  

 “We thought that it was important to create a tool that could be used privately or publicly to mark Yom Hashoah,” says Donna M. Rosenthal, Executive Vice President of CLAL. “There are no home rituals for the day.  By providing the tapes with CLAL faculty, we felt that people could better access a way of remembering, as well as generate new conversations about the meaning and the experience of the tragedy, both individually and communally.”   

To order the two-tape package NIGHTWORDS: A Liturgy on the Holocaust, phone CLAL at 212-779-3300, ext.129. The price, including handling and mailing, is $12.   

 NIGHTWORDS provides both a way for people to find themselves in the story of the Holocaust and to confront their own wrestling with the tradition,” states Rabbi Hirschfield.  “It speaks to anyone confronting the enormity of evil while maintaining faith in life. The tapes provide a new avenue for experience, in keeping with CLAL’s mission for close to 30 years.  We’ve been leaders in building vital Jewish life in an era of openness, but we must also bring that same creativity to the moments of tragedy and loss.”         

Nightwords is published by CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leader in the Jewish healing movement. To purchase a copy, print out and fax or mail the order form below to CLAL. Or to place your order by phone contact CLAL at 212-779-3300 (x129). The cost, per copy, is $12. Checks should be made out and sent to CLAL, 440 Park Avenue South, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016.



Please send _____ NIGHTWORDS audio cassettes at $12.00 per copy (including postage).  Payment by check (payable to CLAL) or credit card must accompany all orders. 

This form may be faxed to CLAL at (212)779-1009 (credit card orders only).

Mail to CLAL, 440 Park Avenue South, 4th Fl., NY, NY  10016-8012.



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