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At an early age Abraham Baer emigrated to Germany, and there under the tutelage of eminent ḥazanim prepared himself for his sacred calling. He officiated for a time at Pakosh and Schwetz in West Prussia, and at twenty-three (1857) was called to Gothenburg.


Well equipped with Hebrew and Talmudic learning, he applied himself to the acquisition of secular knowledge and the science and art of music.


His researches were especially directed to the field of Jewish traditional melodies, then but little explored. In 1871, after fifteen years of hard work, he published his work, Bā'al Tefillah, oder der Practische Vorbeter — an almost complete collection of Jewish traditional melodies, of which a second revised and enlarged edition (358 pp. folio) appeared in 1883.


The work contains fifteen hundred and five melodies, in German, Polish, and Portuguese (Sephardic) versions, and is divided into four parts:  for the services on week-days;  for Shabbat;  for the three festivals Pesaḥ, Shabu'ot, and Sukkot;  for the two great holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; together with an appendix containing notes on the liturgy, the reading of the Torah, and directions and formulas for writing betrothal and marriage contracts.






Abraham Baer, born in Fliehne, Prussia, Germany 

1834 died at Gothenburg, 

Sweden, 1894, was a German cantor, musician, and composer.



His father destined him for the rabbinate; but his love for music and the song of the synagogue caused him to choose to become a Cantor (Hazzan).


Kol Nidre from a 19th-century machzor. Source: Wikipedia

"My book A Prayer for Modernity (En bön för moderniteten : kultur och politik i Abraham Baers värld) deals with the interaction between two reform movements in Europe during the 1800's – the Swedish and the Jewish. In 1857, a young Abraham Baer took the position as cantor of the newly founded synagogue in Gothenburg.


Twenty years later, he produced one of the century’s most remarkable Swedish publications, a handbook of Jewish liturgical music, Baal t’fillah oder der practische Vorbeter. This work is considered a milestone in Jewish cultural history–it is the most ambitious documentation of European synagogical music that was undertaken during the 1800s.


In Jewish Gothenburg, which became a virtual cultural suburb of Berlin, Abraham Baer met Swedish radicals who were striving to dismantle ståndssamhället–the strongly regulated, feudally segmented society–in order to replace it with a modern nation-state. Their faith in progress, education, and freedom was limitless. They wanted to embrace modernity, while still revering tradition.


But what is a nation, and what is the basis for belonging?"


Read author Anders Hammarlund's summary here

Abraham Baer (1834 -1894)

Kol Nidre is an Aramaic declaration recited in the synagogue before the beginning of the evening service on every Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.


Strictly speaking, it is not a prayer, although commonly spoken of as if it were. This dry legal formula and its ceremonial accompaniment have been charged with emotional undertones since the medieval period, creating a dramatic introduction to Yom Kippur on what is often dubbed "Kol Nidrei night".


It is written in Aramaic, not  Hebrew. Its name is taken from the opening words, meaning all vows. The formula proactively annuls any personal or religious oaths or prohibitions made upon oneself to God for the next year, so as to preemptively avoid the sin of breaking vows made to God which cannot be or are not upheld.

Kol Nidrei has had an eventful history, both in itself and in its influence on the legal status of the Jews. Introduced into the liturgy despite the opposition of some rabbinic authorities, it was attacked in the course of time by some rabbis and in the 19th century expunged from the prayer book by many communities of western Europe.

The term Kol Nidrei refers not only to the actual declaration, but is also popularly used as a name for the entire Yom Kippur evening service.


Kol Nidre

Cantor Paul Heller Stockholm Synagogue.

Source: Youtube

The date of the composition of the declaration and its author are alike unknown; but it was in existence at the Geonic period (589–1038 CE). 


There was a common theory that it commenced during and because of a period of extreme persecution, in which Jews were forced at sword's point to convert (either to Christianity or Islam) and that Kol Nidre was supposed to nullify that forced conversion.


The tendency to make vows to God was strong in ancient Israel; the Torah found it necessary to caution against the promiscuous making of vows: "When you make a vow [neder ] to the LORD your God, do not put off fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will require it of you, and you will have incurred guilt; whereas you incur no guilt if you refrain from vowing. You must fulfill what has crossed your lips and perform what you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, having made the promise with your own mouth." (Deuteronomy 23:22–24



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