Filming the Little Sister Video
Updated: May 16, 2018
During my investigation and study of the world of piyyut, I came across an ancient text of Avraham Hazan Gerondi who lived in Girona in Catalonia, Spain in the 13th century.
The piyyut Little Sister is sung on the eve of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) – the exact day on which we move from one year to another, a time for requests and prayer to conclude the year that has passed and to make requests for the New Year “May the year and its curses come to an end, may the New Year and its blessings begin.” This is a time in which the gates of heaven are open to requests and prayers.
Writing the text in feminine language is very much accepted in ancient texts in which the first intention of the authors is to treat the relationship between the community of Israel and the Blessed Holy One. However, in my view an additional story is revealed, a personal, feminine story of a woman who is seeking healing in prayer, who tries with all her might to bring redemption to her life and/or to her friend or relative.
Since I saw in the text a message of universal healing power in general, and for women specifically, I decided to compose a melody for it and to record it.
The video was filmed in the city of Haifa, my birthplace, a city that is common to three religions – Jews, Christians and Muslims – and I decided to dedicate this piyyut to the people of this unique Mediterranean city.
The people in the video are residents of the city: women and men, Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, who agreed to be filmed and to be part of the message of cooperation and love.
This is an example of how I perceive the ancient tradition of piyyut not as a message that is closed inside the synagogue, but rather as a contemporary message of human connection and healing that can reach and be heard in wider segments for and on behalf of all humanity.