Bendigamos

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Bendigamos is a hymn sung after meals according to the custom of Spanish and Portuguese Jews. It has also been traditionally sung by the Jews of Turkish descent. It is similar in meaning to the Birkat Hamazon that is said by all Jews. Bendigamos is said in addition to Birkat Hamazon, either immediately before or immediately after it. The text is in modern Spanish, not Ladino. The prayer was translated by David de Sola Pool. Below is the actual text as well as the translation by de Sola Pool. The melody is one of the best known and loved Spanish and Portuguese melodies, used also for the Song of the Sea (in the Sabbath morning service) and sometimes in "Hallel" (on the first day of the month and on festivals).

It is currently sung in New York's Congregation Shearith Israel on the holiday of Sukkot, as well as on other occasions and at sabbath meals at the homes of members. Bendigamos can also be heard weekly at communal meals such as the Shabbat morning kiddush at Lincoln Park Jewish Center, in Yonkers, New York. It is sung every sabbath in the Spanish and Portuguese communities of Great Britain and Philadelphia, though it was unknown in London before the 1960. It is also sung on the Jewish communities located in the north of Brazil (Manaus and Belem) with brought the melody from Morocco in the 19th century, on its earliest immigration to the Amazon. The song probably originated among the Spanish-speaking Jews of Bordeaux where the song is still sung in French translation, by David Lévi Alvarès. From France the Bendigamos song was probably transferred to the Dutch West-Indies (Curaçao) in the mid Nineteenth Century and thence to New York and Amsterdam. Alternatively, the song may have originated with Sephardic Jews living in Spain, who then immigrated to Turkey, The Ottoman Empire and the Netherlands. It may have been devised as a way to say Birkat HaMazon, without incurring the wrath of the Spanish Inquisition, which forbad the practice of Judaism. [1]

Ladino: English:

Bendigamos

Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Al Señor que nos crió,
Démosle agradecimiento
Por los bienes que nos dió.

Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.

Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por su Ley primeramente,
Que liga a nuestra raza
Con el cielo continuamente,

Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Senor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.

Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por el pan segundamente,
Y también por los manjares
Que comimos juntamente.

Pues comimos y bebimos alegremente
Su merced nunca nos faltó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.

Bendita sea la casa esta,
El hogar de su presencia,
Donde guardamos su fiesta,
Con alegría y permanencia.

Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.

Let us bless

Let us bless the Most High
The Lord who raised us,
Let us give him thanks
For the good things which he has given us.
Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.

Let us bless the Most High
First for his Law,
Which binds our race
With heaven continually,

Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.

Let us bless the Most High,
Secondly for the bread
And also for the foods
Which we have eaten together.

For we have eaten and drunk happily
His mercy has never failed us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.

Blessed be this house,
The home of his presence,
Where we keep his feast,
With happiness and permanence.

Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.

A final phrase is inserted at the end in Hebrew which is repeated twice:

.הוֹדוּ לַיָי כִּי־טוֹב. כּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercy endures forever.

Alternate text[edit]

There is also an alternate text, which appears to be attributable to Sephardic Jews of the Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and Barbados. While the pronunciation varies, which may affect the transliteration spelling, the text is the same.

Bendigamos Let us bless
Bendigamos al Altmsimo,

Al Señor que nos creo,
Demosle agradecimiento,
Por los bienes que nos dio.

Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó,
(H)Odu[note 1] Ladonai ki tob,
Ki leolam jasdo[note 2]

Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por el pan primeramente,
Y después por los manjares,
Que comimos juntamente.

Pues comimos y bebimos alegremente,
Su merced nunca nos faltó,
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre Su merced.

Bendita sea la casa esta
Que nunca manque en ella fiesta,
Tarde, manaña y siesta,
A nos y a los hijos de Israel.

Blessed is the one most high,

The Lord who created us,
Let us give thanks
For all of the good things he gave us.

Praise be his holy name
For he has always had mercy on us.
Blessed is the Lord for he is good,
For his mercy endures forever.

Blessed is the one most high,
First for the bread,
And then for the other foods
We have eaten together.

We ate and we drank happily.
His mercy has never failed us.
Praised is the Lord for he is good,
Whose mercy endures forever.

Blessed be this house
It should never lack celebration,
Afternoon, morning, and evening,
For us and the children of Israel.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The usage of Odu may be attributed to the traditional pronunciation of Jamaican English or Patois which tends to eliminate the initial 'H' sound. The Sephardic pronunciation of the Jews living in Turkey and The Ottoman Empire is to treat the Hebrew letter 'Hey (ה)" as a silent letter. Thus the silent 'H' in Hodu, rendering it as "Odu". This pronunciation applies to both versions of Bendigamos.
  2. ^ This use of 'j' in the transliteration is a Spanish transliteration of the 'kh' or 'ch' guttural sound of the ח of Hebrew, as in the popular toast L'chaim, or as pronounced in the name Bach (The musical composer).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, H.P. (1969). "The Strange Odyssey of Bendigamos". The American Sephardi 3.