Nusach (Hebrew: נוסח nusaħ, modern pronunciation nusakh or
núsakh), plural nuschaot or nusachim, is a concept in
has two distinct meanings. One is the style of a prayer service (or
"rite") (Nosach Teiman,
Nusach Sefard or
another is the melody of the service depending on when the service is
2 Prayer services
2.4 Sephardi and Mizrachi nuschaot
2.5 Nosach Teman
2.6 Nussach Eretz Yisrael
2.7 Other nuschaot
3 Musical nusach
4 See also
6 External links
Nusach primarily means "text" or "version", the correct wording of a
religious text or liturgy. Thus, the nusach tefillah is the text of
the prayers, either generally or in a particular community.
In common use, nusach has come to signify the entire liturgical
tradition of the community, including the musical rendition. It is one
example of minhag, which includes traditions on Jewish customs of all
Nusach Ashkenaz is the style of service conducted by Ashkenazi Jews,
originating from central and eastern Europe. It is the shortest
lengthwise (except for the "Baladi" Yemenite Nusach).
It may be subdivided into the German, or western, branch ("Minhag
Ashkenaz"), used in western and central Europe, and the
Polish/Lithuanian branch ("
Minhag Polin"), used in eastern Europe, the
United States and among Ashkenazim, particularly those who identify as
"Lithuanian", in Israel.
The form used in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, known as
Minhag Anglia", is technically a subform of "
Minhag Polin" but has
many similarities to the German rite. See Singer's Siddur.
Nusach Sefard is the style of service used by some Jews of central and
eastern European origins, especially Hasidim, who adopted some
Sephardic customs emulating the practice of the Ari's circle of
kabbalists, most of whom lived in the Land of Israel. Textually
speaking it is based on the
Sephardic rite, but in melody and feel it
is overwhelmingly Ashkenazi.
Nusach Ari is a variant of
Nusach Sefard, used by
Sephardi and Mizrachi nuschaot
Sephardic law and customs
There is not one generally recognized uniform nusach for Sephardi and
Mizrahi Jews. Instead, Sephardim and Mizrahim follow several slightly
different but closely related nuschaot.
The nearest approach to a standard text is found in the siddurim
Livorno from the 1840s until the early 20th century. These
(and later versions printed in Vienna) were widely used throughout the
Sephardic and Mizrahi world. Another popular variant was the text
Nusach ha-Hida, named after Chaim Yosef David Azulai. Both
these versions were particularly influential in Greece, Iran, Turkey
and North Africa. However, most communities also had unwritten customs
which they would observe, rather than following the printed siddurim
exactly: it is easy, from the printed materials, to get the impression
that usage in the
Ottoman Empire around 1900 was more uniform than it
Other variants include:
the customs of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, based on an older form
of the Castilian rite, with some influence from the customs both of
Italian Jews and of Northern Morocco. This version is distinguished by
the near-absence of Kabbalistic elements.
Nusah Adot Hamizrah, originating among Iraqi Jews but now popular in
many other communities. These are based on the opinions of Yosef
Hayyim and have a strong Kabbalistic flavour.
Minhag Aram Soba, as used by Syrian
Musta'arabi Jews in earlier
centuries (the current Syrian rite is closely based on the Livorno
the Moroccan rite, also related to the text of the
Livorno prints but
with a strong local flavour. This subdivides into the customs of the
Spanish-speaking northern strip and the Arabic-speaking interior of
formerly, there were variants from different parts of Spain and
Portugal, perpetuated in particular synagogues in
elsewhere, e.g. the Lisbon and Catalan[permanent dead link] rites, and
some North African rites appear to reflect Catalan as well as
Under the influence of the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Ovadia
Yosef, a common nusach appears to be emerging among Israeli Sephardim,
based largely on the
Nusach Edot Hamizrach but omitting some of the
Main article: Baladi-rite Prayer
A "Temani" nosach was the standard among the Jews of Yemen. This is
divided into the Baladi (purely Yemenite) and Shami (adopted from
Sephardic siddurim) versions. Both rites are recited using the
unique Yemenite pronunciation of Hebrew, which Yemenite Jews, and some
scholars, regard as the most authentic, and most closely related to
the Hebrew of Ancient Israel.
The Baladi rite is very close to that codified by
Maimonides in his
Mishneh Torah. One form of it is used by the Dor Daim, who attempt to
safeguard the older Baladi tradition of Yemenite Jewish observance.
This version used by dardaim was originally used by all Yemenite Jews
near the time of Maimonides.
Nussach Eretz Yisrael
Further information: Eretz Yisrael
In the period of the Geonim, Jewry in Israel followed the custom of
Eretz Yisrael which is based upon the
(Jerusalem Talmud) while the Jewish diaspora followed the customs of
Geonim of Persia (Bavel, "Babylon").
Nusach Eretz Yisrael, is a recent attempt at reconstructing
the nusach of
Eretz Yisrael in the Talmudic/Geonic period by Machon
Shilo's Rabbi David Bar-Hayim. This reconstruction is based on the
Talmud and documents discovered in the Cairo Genizah and
other sources, and is published in the form of a siddur ("prayer
book") by Yair Shaki. Rabbi Bar-Hayim's Jerusalem followers use this
nusach in a public prayer service held in Machon Shilo's synagogue.
Nusach Eretz Yisrael, "Halakhic Judaism", and the piskei halakha
("issued rulings, according to the Jewish law") of beth din Machon
Shilo ("Shilo Institute") Jerusalem, Israel, are also based on
Eretz Yisrael and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
In addition, there are other nuschaot.
Nussach HaGR"A was a very brief version of Nussach Ashkenaz written by
Vilna Gaon (otherwise known as Elijah of Vilna or the GRA) he
believed that many things in prayer were added later and took them out
in addition to editing some grammatical errors (according to him) and
small changes in other parts as well.
There are the
Minhag Italiani and
Minhag Benè Romì used by some
Closely related to these was the "Romaniote" rite from Greece where
have lived an ancient, pre-Diaspora Jewish community. The surviving
Romaniote synagogues are in Ioannina, Chalkis, Athens,
Tel Aviv and
New York, these now use a
Sephardic rite but with romaniote
variations, romaniote piyyutim, combined with own melodies and customs
and their special form of Byzantine-Jewish Cantillation. There were
formerly Romaniote synagogues in Istanbul and Jerusalem. (The customs
Corfu are a blend between Romaniote, Apulian and Sephardic
There was once a French nusach, closely related to the Ashkenazi,
which is now used only in certain towns in Northern Italy (see Appam).
Distinct Persian and Provençal nuschaot also existed before
being gradually replaced by the Edot Hamizrach and Spanish and
Portuguese nuschaot respectively.
Urfalim Jews of south eastern
Anatolia follow an own prayer rite,
which differs from the Syrian, Kurdish and Iraqi Jewish rite
It is said among some mystics that an as-yet undisclosed nusach will
be revealed after the coming of the Mashiach, the Jewish Messiah.
Others say that the differences in nusach are derived from differences
between the twelve tribes of Israel, and that in Messianic times each
tribe will have its proper nusach.
Main article: Religious Jewish music
The whole musical style or tradition of a community is sometimes
referred to as its nusach, but this term is most often used in
connection with the chants used for recitative passages, in particular
Many of the passages in the prayer book, such as the
Amidah and the
Psalms, are chanted in a recitative rather than either read in normal
speech or sung to a rhythmical tune. The recitatives follow a system
of musical modes, somewhat like the maqamat of Arabic music. For
example, Ashkenazi cantorial practice distinguishes a number of
steiger (scales) named after the prayers in which they are most
frequently used, such as the Adonoi moloch steiger and the Ahavoh
rabboh steiger. Mizrahi communities such as the
Syrian Jews use the
full maqam system.
The scales used may vary both with the particular prayer and with the
season. For examples, there are often special modes for the High Holy
Days, and in Syrian practice the scale used depends on the Torah
reading for the week (see The Weekly Maqam). In some cases the actual
melodies are fixed, while in others the reader has freedom of
Jewish prayer modes
^ Nosaḥ (Hebrew: נוֹסָח) in the Yemenite tradition.
^ Note that Rabbi Shalom ben Aharon Ha-Kohen Iraqi would go to a
different synagogue each Shabbath with printed Sefardic siddurim,
requesting that they pray in the
Sephardic rite and forcing it upon
them if necessary (Rabbi Yosef Kapach, Passover Aggadta [Hebrew], p.
^ Ha-Chilukim Bein Anshei Ha-Mizrach Uvne Eretz Yisrael, edition
Margaliot, Jerusalem, 1928, "The differences between the people in the
east and the people of Eretz Yisrael", from the early Geonic period;
Nusach Eretz Yisrael.
^ "Torah for Those Who Dare to Think". machonshilo.org. Machon Shilo.
Retrieved 10 December 2015.
Nusach Eretz Yisrael- Compact and User-Friendly: The Shabbath
Amidah". youtube.com. Tora Nation Machon Shilo. Retrieved 10 December
^ "Hannukah: The
Eretz Yisrael Version- Shiur with Rabbi David
Bar-Hayim". youtube.com. Tora Nation Machon Shilo. Retrieved 10
Siddur Tefillot ha-Shanah le-minhag kehillot Romania, Venice 1523.
^ Ross, M. S., Europäisches Zentrum für Jüdische Musik, CD-Projekt:
„Synagogale Musik der romaniotischen Juden Griechenlands“
^ Connerty, Mary C. Judeo-Greek: The Language, The Culture. Jay Street
Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-889534-88-9
^ Shelomo Tal, Nosaḥ ha-Tefillah shel Yehude Paras.
^ Seder ha-Tamid[permanent dead link], Avignon 1776.
Western Ashkenazi Nusach
Audio and text from the traditional Sidd