Passover Haggadah: The Original Tradition of the Jews of Yemen

Yemenite Jews have contributed their full share to the development of the Jewish religion and culture preserving ancient religious ideas and practices. Many Yemenite Jews are great scholars, individuals who know by heart the Torah, the prayers, and large portions of Jewish literature.The Yemenite community is the most literate of all Jewish communities when it comes to the Bible and the prayers. Famous scholars assert that to understand the laws of the Mishna and Talmud, one has to live with Yemenite Jews.Yemenite Hebrew has been acknowledged by some researchers to contain the most ancient phonetic and grammatical features dating back to the early days of the first Temple. Ancient Hebrew manuscripts were often copied and preserved in Yemen. The Jewish Yemenite prayer book (the “Tiklal”) is completely different from the Ashkenazic and Sephardic prayer books. Rambam (Maimonides) always referred to the text in the Yemenite prayer book. Yemenite culture is a way of life affecting every activity at home, school, or in the synagogue. Its tradition is richly represented in art, crafts, music and literature. Yemenite garments, jewelry, embroidery, woven fabrics, carpets, and prayer shawls are famous for their high quality. Yemenite melodies and singers are today the most prominent elements in Jewish and Israeli music and the “Yemenite step” is danced in many Israeli folk dances. Our wedding customs, including the “henna” ceremony, are nowadays accepted and combined with Sephardic and Ashkenazic rituals.

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