Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Stadttemple Synagogue in Vienna
photo by Rhonda Spivak


by Rhonda Spivak, Sept 13, 2020

There is an interesting article on the fascinating history of the Kal Nidre prayer written in the Times of Israel by Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopez Cardozo  He asks why in the prayer, which reads like a legal statement we ask to annul vows and promises on the eve of the most solemn day of the Jewish year. Cardozo refers to the theory given in a book by Dr. Joseph S. Bloch that the famous prayer was instituted in the seventh century when the Visigoths forced Spanish Jews to convert to Christianity.  As Cardozo writes,


"Many of the Jews decided to save their lives by openly accepting Christianity while secretly trying to live a Jewish life. These were the first marranos or conversos. On Yom Kippur, however, they were struck by pangs of conscience. Secretly arranging synagogue services, they would begin by asking God for forgiveness on this solemn day, wanting to first rid themselves of their vows to Christianity. How could they stand before God while still under the vow of the Christian faith?"


Cardozo suggests that although we are "no longer forced to convert to Christianity, or any other religion," Jews today have "willfully adopt philosophies that estrange them from their Jewish roots "and have come to believe that Judaism is outdated. He suggests that "On Yom Kippur, even a Jew with only the slightest Jewish affiliation knows that he needs to undo his marrano status and annul his vows to radical secularism."


Relatively few Jews know of the apparent influence of the Kal Nidre prayer on Beethoven. I happened to come across some fascinating information online about how the main theme in the sixth movement of Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 131 appears to be based on the Yom Kippur Kal Nidre melody. In 1825, the Austrian Emperor allowed the Jews to build a great synagogue in Vienna in a residential complex where no one seeing the synagogue could identify it as such from the street. The synagogue, one which I visited , is known as the Stadttemple or Seitstettengasse Synagogue.  Interestingly enough, when this synagogue, was about to be dedicated, the Viennese Jewish community leaders sought to commission a work from Beethoven, asking him to write a cantata for the inauguration of the new synagogue.Alas, Beethovan eventually declined to do so.


 According to the Reform Judaism website, the main theme in the sixth movement of Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 131 [which was written shortly after Beethovan was approached to write a work for the synagogue in Vienna] "appears to be based on the Kol Nidre melody."


According to the site, when leaders of the Jewish community in Vienna approached Beethoven to compose music for the inauguration of a new synagogue, they were looking for music of a "Jewish character.


They " they supplied the composer with what they considered important examples of Jewish music, among them Kol Nidre. The commission was never completed, but since this is the only formal connection that can be established between Beethoven and the Jewish community, this brief contact is the likely source of the composer's inspiration."(


See also:

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Fillmore Riley
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Winter's Collision Repair
  • Gray Academy
  • Jacqueline Simkin
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • CHW
  • The J Hansen HVAC Group
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • The Lazareck Family
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Piston Ring
  • Nick's Inn
  • Lori Shenkarow
  • Roseman Corp.
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Josef Ryan
  • Sobey's
  • Daniel Friedman and Rob Dalgliesh
  • The Lipkin Family
  • Booke and Partners
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Fair Service
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Amalgamated Drywall Systems Ltd.
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Commercial Pool
  • Lanny Silver
  • Fetching Style
  • Rudy Fidel
  • Shindico
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • Myrna Driedger
  • Shirley and Bob Freedman
  • The Chisick Family
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • The Shinewald Family
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Munroe Dental Centre
  • Ixtapa Travel
  • Hill Sokalski Walsh
  • D'arcy and Deacon
  • The Charach Family
  • Esther and Sid Halpern
  • Myers LLP
  • The Lazar Family
  • Dr. Marshall Stitz
  • Cavalier Candies
  • Cdn Visa
  • Kowall Chiropractic Centres
  • Dr. Brent Schacter
  • Doheny Securities
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Peerless Garments
  • Pitblado
  • Cindy Lamoureux
  • HUB International
  • Philip Kahanovtich
  • Global Philathropic Canada
  • Sorrento's
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Aziza Family
  • Western Scrap Metals
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Larry N. Maguire
  • Malaya Marcelino
  • Candice Bergen
  • Safeway
  • John Orlikow
  • Ross Eadie
  • Orthodox Union
  • Saul Simmonds
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Chochy's
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Stephen Rosenfield
  • Abe and Toni Berenhait
  • The Lofchick Famiy
  • Stringer Rentals
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education
  • Asper Jewish Community Campus
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Kristina's
  • West Kildonan Auto
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.