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A Chasene In Yerushalayim

A Chasene In Yerushalayim

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Double CD

Original Release Date Dec 25, 2006
Distributor Aderet Music Corp.
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A Chasunah in Yerushalayim Mit Moshe Cohen

As we all know, a chasunah in Yerushalayim is no small simchah. How much more so when the chasunah is with Moshe Cohen. Recently, a double album has been released with all the Yerushalmi minhagim for the night of the chasunah,  starting with the minhag not to play music instruments, only a “poiker” (drum), and finishing with the last moments of the chasunah.

A short interview with Moshe Cohen, on the background of the old time minhagim, the traditional Yerushalmi niggun “Akavia,” the grammen and the chassan dancing with the niggun “Eishes Chayil” and more….

Q: How many years have you been singing at weddings, according to the minhag Yerushalayim?

My start was actually at the tziyun of the holy Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron on Lag BaOmer some 15 years ago. Since then, I started singing at weddings, and today I can proudly say, that Be’ezras Hashem, I have performed at over 1,000 weddings!! Kein yirbu!! And, may I add, most were in Yerushalayim.

Q: All of a sudden, one day, you decided to make an album, dedicated to the minhagim of the Yerushalmi wedding?

During the last few years, many people from Chutz La’Aretz have asked me to record for them an authentic Yerushalmi wedding, being they have not been zocheh to take part in such a simcha. In truth, this is a first: a Yerushalmi wedding, with no music, only vocal singing, sung by local Yerushalmis.
The Yerushalmi minhag, of not having music at weddings, is already more than 140 years old. In the year 5625/1865, the Rabbanim of Yerushalayim decreed against music at weddings, most notable amongst the Rabbanim was Harav Meir Aeurbach, zt”l, the Imrei Binah. (The grandfather of Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach)
Many reasons have been offered as to the rationale behind this ban. One opinion is that a serious epidemic broke out in Yerushalayim, and the Rabbanim decided to forbid music as to take a part in their pain and suffering. Their are other reasons offered, the main thrust being mourning for the churban habyis, since Yerushalayim is close to the place of the Beis Hamikdash, it would not be right for us to become all that happy and merry, while our Beis Hamikdash is still unbuilt.
From then and until today, the minhag of the Ashkenazim in Yerushalayim, and most of the chassidim, is to refrain from playing music at weddings, only percussion instruments, which according to halachah, aren’t considered musical instruments.
In the old times, many in Yerushalayim had the custom of making weddings on erev Shabbos, with a band drumming away on the bottom of a metal tin (known to the Yerushalmis as “Drobka”), but with time, this act was perfected, becoming now a set of drums, together with sound systems, and proffesional speakers.

Q: Is the whole album – both parts – only Yerushalmi niggunim?

The second part of the album is dedicated to the Mitzvah tantz, or as better known in Yerushalayim, the Kosher tantz, which is actually perfomed with proffesional music. This is not by any means supposed to show that at a Mitzvah tantz we do play music, rather that at the Mitzvah tantz, backgroung music is played, making for an all more serious moment, at this auspicous moment, when the grammen are sung.
As a bonus, I added to the disc, a sample of niggunim from the top singers of hemishe Jewish music today, niggunim from a pure source, many of which are sung by chassidic courts. These are with a full musical and proffesional arrangements.

Q: Who are the singers in the album?

Partaking in the album are some of the well known Yerushalmi singers, like Avraham Yehuda Eckstein, Moshe Rothman, Yisrael Hersthick, Chaim Meir Roth, Yossi Dayan as bass singer and myself, Moshe Cohen.
As soloists we have Ahrale Roth, Meir Adler, the well known keyboard player, who suprises with his rendition of Yizkerem, wunderkind Motti Stern, Reb Yosef Tzvi Neilender, who sings the heartful grammen, and the Chazzan Aharon Shloime Weissman, who sings Akavia.

Q: If you mentioned Akavia, may we ask, what is the source for the singing of this niggun before the dance of the chassan?

Reb Aharon Hoizman, an elderly Karlin chassid, relates that the source for this niggun is from his grandfather, Reb Yosef Hoizman, z”l, who used to sing at weddings from the year 5679/1919, singing at the chuppah and the Mitzvah tantz, and he was the one who introduced this moving niggun.
The niggun itself was composed a famous chazzan, who lived in Poland some 200 hundred years ago. In that era, a serious epidemic occured, rachmana litzlan, to which many of acheinu bnei yisroel succumbed. The disease was catchy, and many were scared to bury the dead, with the worry that, they too would receive the disease. This situaion became so bad, that all those who were about to pass away, had to dig their own graves, being that no one was willing to risk dealing with the bodies.
One of those who was deathly ill with the disease was a famed chazzan. When he went to dig his own grave, he became totally overcome with deep emotional feeling and fervor, and started singing the words of the Mishna “Akavia ben Mahalelal.” With his strong voice, he soon had the whole family singing and weeping along with him. They sung and sung until they all knew the niggun, thus it was passed on till today.


This double CD or cassette, is almost 2 ½ hours long & has over 60 songs in it. All for the price of a single album. Also, there is a brand new hit song by the famous composer, Menachem Elbaum (Kol Hamesameach by MBD) titled Meheira. This is definitely a wedding you don’t want to miss.

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