Thursday, September 8, 2016

Face Us in Mercy

A High Holy Day Piyut: As we approach the High Holy Days (Selichot September 24!), Abq Jew is pleased to share with you this beautiful piyut (liturgical poem) that comes to us from the Masorti Movement in Israel.

Hazan Saralee Shrell-Fox, Maayan Fox, Rabbi Eli Peretz, Aviya Attas, Devora Greenberg

It is, Abq Jew must say, a beautiful example of the vibrancy and gifts that come to world Jewry by having an active Masorti Movement in Israel.

This piyut was written hundreds of years ago by a woman, a "bat Joseph", and was put to music by Hazan Saralee Shrell-Fox (Kehillat Ma'ayanot, Jerusalem). It was recorded by her, her son, Rabbi Eli Peretz (Kehillat Sinai, Tel Aviv), and others.

A piyut written by a woman?

Yes. Written by Freha bat Avraham. The Jewish Virtual Library tells us:
A member of the prominent Moroccan Bar Adiba family, Freha moved to Tunis with her father and brother to escape anti-Jewish persecutions in Morocco, probably some time in the 1730s. 
Unusually learned for a woman of her time and place, Freha was said to have been well versed in Torah and to have composed essays and poetry in Hebrew. Some of her poems survive and were first published in Tunis in the 1930s. 
Freha died in 1756 during the conquest of Tunis by Algerians. Her father built a synagogue in her memory, and it became a place of pilgrimage for Tunisian Jewish women who revered Freha as a holy person (kedoshah) and invoked her name in times of distress. 
The synagogue stood until its destruction in 1936, when it was replaced by a new structure that also preserved Freha's name.
And the Jewish Women's Archive adds
While the general educational level of women in the Middle East and North Africa remained low, exceptions continually appeared. 
A late example of a learned woman is Freha bat Avraham bar Adiba, a poet and scholar of the eighteenth century. Born in Morocco, she lived in Tunisia and was killed there when Tunis was attacked and conquered by the Algerians. 
To honor her memory Freha’s father built a synagogue in her name. He located the ritual bath on the site where her bed once stood, while the Holy Ark marked the place of her library. 

Abq Jew hopes that Face Us in Mercy, which may (or may not) appear in the Conservative Movement's Mahzor Lev Shalem, will be fervently sung at his shul, Congregation B'nai Israel, which is adopting Lev Shalem this year.

And at your shul, too! And to help you out - whichever mahzor you're using - Abq Jew has thoughtfully provided the words. Below.

פנה אלינו ברחמים
בזכות אברהם תמים
רחם עלינו ממרומים
האל גואלי

4x בקר ותשמע קולי

רחם על עם סגולתך 
כי הם עמך ונחלתך
מהר קבץ קהילתך
אל הר גלילי

יחיד נשא ונעלם 
פדה בנך כשה נאלם
ובנה דביר ואולם
ותמוך גורלי

4x בקר ותשמע קולי

חוס וחמול עלינו
ולציון העלינו 
והקם דבירך אלינו
 צורי וגואלי

אלי שמע תחינתי 
אדון בוחר רינתי 
האל מגני ומנתי
כוסי וחבלי

4x בקר ותשמע קולי

בת יוסף מייחלת
הטוב ממך שואלת
מהר ארצה תהי נוחלת

2x מיד הישמעאלי
2x בקר ותשמע קולי

אבי ברוב רחמיך
החש מושיע עמך
ועשה למען שמך

2x כל חטא מחול לי
2x בקר ותשמע קולי

בוראי רחם יחידתי
צורי חזק קהילתי
והעלני לארץ חמדתי 
ואקטר כלילי

בתוך רבים אהללנו 
דגלו ירים באהלינו
הפלא חסדך אלינו
ורצה חן זה קולי

4x בקר ותשמע קולי
4x בקר ותשמע קולי

And for the melodies, here is the video.

And an English translation.

Face us in mercy
Because of unblemished Abraham’s merit
Be merciful to us from the heavenly heights
O God my redeemer

Who at morning time hears my voice

Reward your treasured people with mercy
For they are Your people and Your inheritance
Hurry, gather your community
To the mountains of my homeland

Especial One, exalted and unseen,
Rescue Your son like the silent lamb
Rebuild your sanctuary structures
And give support to my cause

Who at morning time hears my voice

Have compassion and be kind to us
And bring us up to Zion
And raise up your Temple for us
My rock and my rescuer

Attend my God to my plea
Lord who favors my song
God who is my shield and my apportioned
Lot and guardian of my fate

Who at morning time hears my voice

Joseph’s daughter pleads
She asks of you all that is good
Quickly may she take possession of her land
From the Ishmaelites

Who at morning time hears my voice

My father in Your great mercy
Hasten along Your people’s savior
And act for the sake of Your own name
Every sin of mine forgive

My Creator have mercy on my unique soul
My Rock strengthen my community
Bring me up to the land I treasure
and I will offer my burnt incense

Who at morning time hears my voice

Among many I praise Him
May he raise His banner among our tents
Make Your kindness toward us be abundant
And may this my voice be received with favor

Who at morning time hears my voice
Who at morning time hears my voice

If and when Abq Jew is privileged to awaken and open his eyes this Friday,
he will have lived one day longer than his mother, Roselyn Lillian (Wise) Yellin,
of blessed memory, who died on January 2 1994, at the age of
66 years and 21 days.

Abq Jew dedicates Face Us in Mercy to her memory.
כל חטא מחול לי, בקר ותשמע קולי

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