Global Piyyut Workshop

Tuesday, November 15

7:30-9 p.m. 

Mississippi Room at Coffman Memorial Union

Collaborative workshop with with Yair Harel (Jerusalem, Israel) and Rabbi Roly Matalon (Bne’i Jeshurun, NY), founders and co-directors of Global Piyut (formerly Piyut North America)

Open to all interested in learning and singing piyyutim.

A voyage to the soundtrack of Jewish culture – the tradition of sacred Hebrew song and music from around the world. We will learn and sing together piyyutim from North Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Together we will experience the multicultural nature of Jewish music, prayer, and spiritual expression, and address the challenge of making the piyyut traditions accessible to American congregations.


Piyyut (plural piyyutim, from the Greek poiētḗs “poet”) is the sacred poetry that has accompanied individuals, families, and communities in the spiritual journey of life throughout Jewish history. Piyyut are the sacred songs that have made beautiful the experience of Shabbat and Jewish holidays, both at the synagogue and around the family table, as well as the celebration of the birth of a child, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and marriage.

Wherein lies the extraordinary power of piyyut?

The words and the melodies of these sacred songs express a wide range of emotions, from gratitude and praise, to yearning and awe, to anguish, hope, and joy. Singing piyyutim helps us feel alive and present, it allows us to pour out what lies deep in our souls as we reach for each other and for the divine presence.

Yair Harel is a world-renowned Israeli performer, singer, artistic director, teacher, and community activist, active in the revival and contemporary interpretation of the ancient art of piyyut (liturgical Hebrew poetry) in Israel and abroad that has revolutionized the face of Israeli culture in the last decade. His unique singing style combines knowledge in Jewish traditions from North Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, with improvisational skills. Harel has studied under a number of leading paytanim and musicians including the Israel Prize winner musicologist Andre Hajdu, Rabbi Meir Attyah, and zarb (Persian drum) masters Roger Yshay and Daghmeshid Chemirani.

Harel is the founder and editor in chief of the Invitation to Piyut website, as well as the artistic director of “Within the secret of many voices Festival” in Jerusalem and the Ben Zvi Piyut Vocal Ensemble. Was the Co-founder of the New Jerusalem Orchestra, among many other major artistic productions in the field of traditional and contemporary Jewish music. Together with Rabbi Matalon he is a founding co-director of Global Piyut Music, a development of Piyut North America (2011), a partnership between B’nai Jeshurun and Hazmanah Le-Piyut in Israel. Harel was a Shustermann artist in residence at UC Berkeley (2014) and has also taught at the Hebrew University, The Center for Eastern Classical Music in Jerusalem, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and The Jerusalem Academy High School for Music and Dance.

Rabbi Roly Matalon, B’nai Jeshurun’s Senior Rabbi and Rosh Kehillah (Head of the Community), was born in Buenos Aires Argentina, and was educated in Buenos Aires, Montreal, Jerusalem and New York City. Rabbi Matalon came to B’nai Jeshurun in 1986, and joined his mentor,Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, in BJ’s revitalization through engaged prayer, community building, interfaith cooperation and social justice. Rabbi Matalon’s leadership has had an impact on the revitalization of Jewish synagogue life in the US and in Israel.

Together with Yair Harel, Rabbi Matalon is a founding co-director of Global Piyut Music (a development of Piyut North America), a partnership between B’nai Jeshurun and Hazmanah Le-Piyut in Israel, which is dedicated to the dissemination of liturgical music from Jewish communities around the world. Rabbi Matalon plays the oud and is a student of Arabic, Turkish and Armenian music. He has been a member of the New York Arabic Orchestra.


November 15
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Center for Jewish Studies


University of Minnesota – Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455 United States
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(612) 624-4636