Moshe Chadid, an Argentine-born Jerusalem rabbi, has devoted much of his career to preserving the unique religious rites and traditions of his Damascus ancestors. Toward that end, he is publishing a series of liturgical works, many of which have been passed down either orally or only in manuscript form. Eliezer Hayun writes:
“For years,” [said Chadid], “[Damascene] communities used notes kept by the elderly that [detailed their] ancient customs. On Yom Kippur, for example, we commemorate the greatest rabbis who served in the city of Damascus in the past, going back 300 years, immediately after the Kol Nidrei prayer. The [names of] dozens of rabbis with their specific titles are now printed in our Yom Kippur prayer book.” . . .
Chadid recently completed what appears to be his greatest project: reviving the bakashot, a collection of supplications, songs, and prayers that were sung by community members at their synagogues in the small hours of Friday night, generation after generation.
The bakashot were a dominant component of [Jewish communal life in] Damascus. . . . Every Friday night, for hundreds of years, Damascene Jews would gather and sing the songs from midnight until dawn.