Judah M. Cohen is the Lou and Sybil Mervis Professor of Jewish Culture and Associate Professor of Musicology at Indiana University. He has authored The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment (2009), Sounding Jewish Tradition: The Music of Central Synagogue (2011), and the forthcoming book Jewish Religious Music in Nineteenth Century America (2019). Recent publications include the “Jewish Music” article in the second edition of the Grove Dictionary of American Music, and the Music entry for Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies. He has also published extensively on Caribbean Jewish history, including his monograph Through the Sands of Time: A History of the Jewish Community of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (2004). His current projects explore World War II era narratives in musical theater, 19th century American synagogue music, and American Jewish singer/songwriter/liturgist Debbie Friedman.
Music forcefully reminds us of religion’s timebound nature and holds its own systems of rhythm and inflection—you cannot skim music the way you can cram a text.