Ashamnu (Thesele Kemane, Baritone Soloist)

Vocal Quartet: Thesele Kemane, Beverley Chiat, Katherine Moon, Leanne Jacobson & Albert Combrink (Piano)
(Jewish Traditional Arranged by Albert Combrink, Sung in Hebrew)

Filmed Live during the “Kol Nidre” service at Temple Israel Reform Synagogue, Greenpoint, Cape Town, South Africa, September 2013

Read More about Thesele Kemane HERE:

Read more about Albert Combrink HERE:

Ashamnu: Brief Discussion

I have  been able to establish the neither the dentity of the composer, nor the history of this setting, of the Asahmnu. I will have to go with Jewish traditional as my best option. I have some handwritten sheet music, and for the rest, members of the congregation have taught me how it should go. Or how they think it should go. Or how they thought they might have remembered how it went. The oral traditions of the word are often astonishingly flawless in the precision with which texts, music and other concepts are passed from generation to generation. I can claim no such success, but have attempted to make the call-and-response prayer flow rhythmically and unrushed.

In Judaism, confession (or Viddui in Hebrew) is a step in the process of atonement, involving admitting to committing a sin before God. In sins between a person and God, the confession must be done privately, without others present: The Talmud calls public confession a show of disrespect. On the other hand, confession pertaining to sins done to another person are permitted to be done publicly, and in fact such confession such confessions is considered immensely praiseworthy.

The confession of a sin in itself does not bring immediate forgiveness, but rather marks a point in time after which a person’s demonstration of the recognition and avoidance of similar future transgressions show whether he or she has truly recovered from the sin and therefore whether he or she deserves forgiveness for it.

The musical setting is a simple call-and-response with a repetitive chordal structure. The sins that are confessed are mostly single words, the first letter of which runs alphabetically down all the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.

The singers – and the congregation – “beat their chests” while singing the prayer. It is a ritual form of punishment, and the fact that it is self-inflicted is meant to testify to the sincerity of it. For a full discussion of this issue, please read this mediation by Moshe Bogomilsky.

Ashamnu: Hebrew Text and Eglish Translation

I refer you to two excellent online spiritual meditations on the words and ideas behind this “confession” written by 1) Rabbi Benyomin Hoffman and 2) Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller.

ASHAMNU: We have become desolate.

BAGADNU: We have betrayed.

GAZALNU: We have stolen.

DEBARNU DOFI: We have spoken with “two mouths”

HEYVINU: We have made things crooked.

VI’HIRSHANU: And we have made others wicked.

ZADNU: We have sinned intentionally.

CHAMASNU: We have been violent.

TAFALNU SHEKER: We have become desensitized to dishonesty.

YATZNU RA: We have given bad advice.

KIZAVNU: We have disappointed

LATZNU: We have been contemptuous.

MARADNU: We have rebelled.

NI’ATZNU: We have angry.

SARARNU: We have turned away

AVINU: We gave in to our desires.

PASHANU: We have broken standards of behavior that we know to be right and then justified this

TZARARNU: We afflicted others.

KISHINU OREF: We have been stubborn.

RISHANU: We have been wicked.

SHICHATNU: We have been immoral.

TA’INU: We have erred.

TITANU: We have misled others.