12. Tracing the Minhag Ashkenaz in Swiss Synagogue Music: Advocates of Intangible Cultural Heritage meet Agents of Cultural Sustainability
Sarah M. Ross [+]
Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover
The term ‘cultural heritage’, as defined and developed by the UNESCO, includes oral traditions and living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants. The ways, how the understanding of this concept is put into practice is, however, often limited to visual rather than audible forms of culture, such as within the context of Jewish culture in Switzerland. Here, much effort has been put e.g. into the preservation of the tangible Jewish heritage of the two villages Endingen and Lengnau in Surbtal, but less into safeguarding of the musical traditions of these two villages. Against this background, the chapter argues to apply the concept of cultural sustainability in the study of the so-called Minhag Ashkenaz (the Western-German custom) in Swiss synagogue music. Within the context of this chapter, the concept is first of all understood as an independent and alternative concept from UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage. Thus transformed, it better represents the discursive and dynamic processes of preserving, transmitting and sharing cultural expressions – such as orally transmitted synagogue chants.