Eratio Issue 17




R. T. (ca. 1873-1919)


by Raphael Rubinstein





Remembering a singer in

Aleppo, his improvised

pizmonim, his poor voice,

his blindness, his stock of

Arab melodies

elided in an instant to

lines of freshly sung Hebrew poetry.


Transmission of music

across oceans and

borders and back

ought to

unite voices,

songs stowing away like pollen,

honey melting in tea.





The subject of this poem is Raphael Taboush, a rabbi in Aleppo, Syria, who was celebrated for his pizmonim, musical compositions that set Hebrew texts to secular, often Arabic, melodies.  Taboush, who went blind at an early age, was also renowned as a musical healer and teacher; his former students carried his music throughout the Syrian Jewish diaspora. 









Raphael Rubinstein in a New York based art critic and poet.  In 2013, The Song Cave published his The Cry of Unbalance, a chapbook with drawings by Trevor Winkfield.



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