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Where, when and why did the prayer Aheinu begin to be recited outside of the liturgical context? It seems that it originated as and was restricted to being recited after reading from the Torah, however today it is often recited in other communal settings and contexts.

What is the source for the fairly ubiquitous tune?

Some examples:

Motty Steinmetz (Hasidic)

Shai Abramson (IDF Rabbinate Band)

Zaka volunteers

Text:

אחינו כל בית ישראל, הנתונים בצרה ובשביה, העומדים בין בים ובין ביבשה ,המקום ירחם עליהם ויוציאם מצרה לרווחה, ומאפלה לאורה, ומשעבוד לגאולה, השתא בעגלה ובזמן קריב. ונאמר אמן

Translation:

As for our brothers,​ the whole house of Israel, who are given over to trouble or captivity​, whether they abide on the sea or on the dry land: May God have mercy upon them, and bring them forth from trouble to enlargement, from darkness to light, and from subjugation to redemption, now speedily and at a near time. Let us say Amen.

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  • I’m not sure what you mean, the examples you give are song renditions which isn’t all that uncommon for any number of tefillos
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 0:00
  • @ezra the examples are of the specific tune I am asking about. The presentation of multiple examples is in service of the claim that the tune is widely used. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 0:24
  • It's a nice song. What is the question?
    – N.T.
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 6:52
  • @NT I'm not sure what you are not understanding. This song is a prayer that historically had a specific liturgical context. It is now oft recited/sung in other contexts (this past Simhath Torah I synagogue I attended recited it during haqafoth, in years past I've heard it recited on 9 Abh, I recently observed it being recited during prayer gatherings for the situation in E"Y in both right wing and centrist settings, etc. ) The question is a) when/where/how did it begin to be recited outside of its historic setting and b) who composed the widely used tune. Is there anything else I can clarify? Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 12:14

1 Answer 1

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The song was popularised following its release by Abie Rotenberg.

It was composed in 1990 (see here) and first released on his Lev V'nefesh 1 CD.

In an interview (linked above) Abie provides more context:

GC: When you composed Acheinu what was going in the world that had you adapt those words to the tune?

AR: I don’t recall any particular reason for composing a tune to the words Acheinu. As we say in Yiddish, es felt nisht kein tzaros, there are always more than enough problems. But I do remember that in this instance, the melody was written specifically for those words, not just as a tune for which the words were chosen later.

As @JoelK observes from the interview, it became popular shortly after its release which coincided with the onset of the Gulf War.

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  • He may not have composed it with a specific situation in mind, but as he notes in that interview, it became popular as it was released around the time of the Gulf War
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 8:26
  • True @JoelK thanks
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 8:27
  • war and the war machine Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 9:48
  • Excellent answer, thank you! So is it your contention that before it was popularized via Abie Rotenberg's tune that it was generally otherwise restricted to its place in prayer until 1990? Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 12:08
  • @Deuteronomy as with any other song - either you know it or you don't. When a song becomes more well known it is sung more frequently...
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 12:43

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