"All Vows;" prayer recited on the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar;
If one were to ask Reform congregants what single piece of liturgy epitomizes Yom Kippur for them, the answer surely would be Kol Nidrei. Its haunting melody, traditionally chanted three times before the open ark with all of the Torah-scrolls being held in front of the congregation, ushers in the most solemn day of the Jewish year. Indeed, this prelude to the Yom Kippur evening service is so impressive that the service itself has become popularly known as “Kol Nidrei” or “Erev Kol Nidrei.” Yet the text has been a subject of ongoing controversy since its first appearance in a rabbinic liturgical compendium in the ninth century C.E
In the book of Numbers (15:38-39), we read that the Israelites were instructed to "make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments…that they shall look at it and recall all the commandments of the Eternal and observe them..."
I heard Kol Nidrei on a violin tonight.
They should take all legal documents
and set them to music.
All vows –
This legal document
written in unholy language
a prenuptial agreement
for our inevitable failing.
This relationship with
For most North American Jews, the haunting melody of Kol Nidrei surely is the piece of liturgy that best represents Yom Kippur, prompting us to delve deep into our souls.