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    Kol Nidrei – moved by the music

    The words of Kol Nidrei are rather technical, even banal. It’s the melody that counts. A melody that tells a story. The story is that of our endless pain in the pogroms, our hurting soul in countless calamities wherever suffering was imposed by apostles of evil.

    But these are not the main thoughts of the Kol Nidrei moment. The main thoughts are of our yearning to be free of the shackles of sin. Kol Nidrei draws us along as we sigh, as we weep, as we wail and whimper.

    Every cantor works on his Kol Nidrei because he knows that it must speak to and of the Jewish heart – including his own.

    Kol Nidrei is based on the Biblical command that a person must honour his word. Better not to promise than to promise and not fulfil.

    Kol Nidrei knows that human beings are not perfect. Yet it is fundamentally optimistic about man’s ability to transform himself.

    Milton Steinberg wrote that though our tradition finds man “capable of abysmal evil, it insists that he is equally capable of dazzling good. It holds that he is born not pre-damned but with a clean slate; that he has the power to keep himself righteous, or, having sinned, to recapture his righteousness; that his salvation is up to him.”

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