EphraIm Abileah
Composer of the Mah Nishtanah

This page is devoted to recording references on the composition and performances of the Mah Nishtanah.

Some recordings
Thed Andi Joseph version
The robots of the R D Institute for Intelligent Robotic Systems, Rishon Le-Zion, Israel
Dan ("Pi") Goldberg, (5th Generation, Ephraim's great-great-grandson), sings Man Nishtanah, Seattle, 2016.

Most printings of the Mah Nishtanah don't attribute the composition. Some simply describe the music as "Israeli" (see "Israeli" version). It used to be that there was hardly any mention of the composer who was none other than Ephraim Abileah (the grandfather of the webmaster of this domain). But this is changing. The origin of the Mah Nishtanah can now be found in several sources.

1956 publication in honor of 70th Birthday of the composer's widow.

Cantor Alane Simons Katzew's article is the most recent (2008) and most detailed attributation of the Mah Nishtanah composition to Ephraim. Cantor Katzew also wrote a short piece on Ephraim in 2006  (Word document) which appeared in the Union for Reform Judaism web site in 2006.

The Cantor Sam Weiss article (on page 4) published in the Kol Sholom the monthly newsletter of CONGREGATION AGUDATH SHOLOM,  Stamford, CT, in April 2005.  (Also republished here)

Another reference: Passover Refelctions from Cantor Epstein (May 2011).

2016 The Global History of Ma Nishtana

Almost every haggadah includes the Mah Nishtanah. But only two that we are aware of that credit Ephraim Abileah as the composer.

The Elwell - Weisberg Haggadah has two Mah Nishtanah compositions, one by Ephraim Abileah and another by Cantor Marshall Portnoy.  The Ephraim is the well known version.  This printing of the music sheet is the only one with Ephraim's name (as far as we know now)

Front cover  
Title page  
Copyright    
Music index 

Page 122: the Mah Nishtanah by Ephraim Abileah and a few bars from the Portnoy version.

 

Mah Nishtanah - Hebrew Dayenu!: A Passover Haggadah for Families and Children by Carol Boyd Leon includes two versions, one sung in English (with lyrics by Carol Byod Leon), and the second with the traditional Hebrew. Carol Lewon wrote a background story in the April 2007 newsletter of the Congregation Olam Tikvah in Virginia. See her column on page 13. The haggadah and the music sheets that go with it are sold on the Carold Boyd Leon web site. Note that the sheet music (including Ephraim's Mah Nishtana) is sold as a separate item from the Haggadah.