Have you ever found yourself the guest at a Shabbis (Ashkenazi pronunciation of Shabbat, meaning sabbath) table when suddenly your hosts break out in zemirot (Jewish hymns, though folk song may be more appropriate in some instances) and, though the words may seem familiar, the tunes do not? Never fear, Zemirot Database to the rescue! The ZD is a site where anyone can browse the collection, click on a zemer (singular of zemirot) and find both words and tunes. Usually you will find the words in Hebrew with transliteration into English, translation into English, and often attribution if known or other information on the zemer.
I’ll warn you up front that the singers aren’t always the greatest, but that’s part of the beauty of it. In fact, not only is it free to browse, it is free (and encouraged) to participate! That’s right–you too can create a free account and upload your special tune to your favorite zemer. Consider yourself somewhat of a zemirot expert and, after browsing the index on ZD discovered that your favorite is missing? Time to create a new entry in the database. I was delighted to add my favorite tune to אשא עיני – Esa Einai from psalms 121:1-2,4. (It’s a tune composed by Rabbi Michael Shapiro which he gave me permission to post and I promise will become your new favorite too!) Now it’s your turn. Happy singing!