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Theory: Simply imitative of or resembling the (nonsense?) sound "Ciri-biri-bom" from the 1960 Yiddish play and song. (C as in Charlie) Which is in turn imitative of or resembling "Ciribiribin," 1898 Piedmontese ballad. The nonsense phrase Ciribiribin seems imitative of the words in its first line, especially "che bel" -- "...


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The singing is meant to mark time while the congregants say the prayers in the siddur. (On Shabbos, when those prayers are not said, the singing is omitted.) The Kohanim are trying to mainly stay together and keep a standard pace that will allow the congregation to finish, not put on a show. So if the singing sounds more functional than usual synagogue ...


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