Library > News > Newsletter > 2015 > March 2015 > Piyut – Connecting People and Poetry Across Generations

Piyut – Connecting People and Poetry Across Generations

Although not your common radio fare, ancient Jewish liturgical poetry (more commonly known as piyut), is enjoying a surprising resurgence among Israeli and international audiences. The National Library of Israel has responded to this trend by presenting "The Secret of Many Voices: A Journey to the Heart of Piyut and Prayer", a series featuring some of Israel's top musicians, poets and scholars. The name of the series reflects the Library's primary goal in designing it – to encourage diverse voices to explore the world of piyut and prayer in different intellectual and musical ways.

Focused on exploring piyut and prayer and its many facets through music and dialogue, each evening of the five-part series explores a different theme prevalent in the world of piyut. The themes include "Holiness", "Zion", "Faith", "Love", and "Sabbath", with speakers, discussions, text study and musical performances shedding light on each theme from a particular vantage point. Original texts from the Library's Music Collection and National Sound Archive play a central role in the series, allowing participants to experience an exploratory journey focusing on the changing significance and relevance of the various texts throughout the generations and until the present day.

The series, which has already received considerable media coverage, precedes the summer 2015 launch of the new "Invitation to Piyut and Prayer" website, a collaboration between the National Library and Snunit, a leading Israeli NGO that develops Internet-based educational initiatives. The website is dedicated to preserving piyut in addition to Jewish prayer, in all of their forms, making them more accessible globally through an extensive online archive, audio files of various piyutim and melodies, information related to the history and significance of piyut and Jewish prayer, as well as translated texts, and more. "The Secret of Many Voices" will continue through June and the existing "Invitation to Piyut" website is available online in Hebrew and English: