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January 24, 2023 9:02 am
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First Full-Length Album of Hasidic Melodies Sung by Women to Be Released in February

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avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Women singing Klimovitcher Nigun from the upcoming album Kapelya. Photo: YouTube screenshot

The first full-length album of wordless Jewish Hassidic melodies, known as niggunim, to be sung professionally by women will be released next month.

Kapelya, which in Yiddish means musical ensemble, features 22 female vocalists and instrumentalists singing old Hassidic melodies that are typically sung publicly only by men, since Orthodox men are prohibited from hearing women singing, for reasons of modesty. The 13 tracks on the album combine Hasidic prayer, Yiddish Klezmer, traditional medicine music and Jewish music from the 1970s-90s.

The album is an outcome of “RAZA_circles” — a group which organizes musical singing gatherings mainly for women in New York City and Israel since 2018. They are led by Brooklyn native Chana Raskin, 35, who uses the name RAZA when performing.

The 22 women vocalists included in the recording of Kapelya “helped to create the atmosphere of those gatherings in the studio,” Raskin told The Algemeiner. 

“Given the context of where this music comes from, [which is] a traditional Hassidic community…this album is doing something that hasn’t been done before,” added Raskin, who leads vocals on the album. “It is bowing its head to the tradition of old while making space for the new, doing both with a profound deep listening and joyful curiosity.”

Kapelya will be released by Rising Song Records on Feb. 22.

Listen to Klimovitcher Nigun from the album Kapelya in the video below.

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