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Hero of a legend first published around 1350 that reflected the bloody persecutions of the Jews during the Crusades. The Archbishop of Mayence continually pressed Amnon, a distinguished and learned man of wealth among the Jews of Mayence in Germany, to convert to Christianity. Finally, Amnon asked the archbishop for three days to come to a decision. At the end of this period, Amnon did not appear before the archbishop because he regretted having given the impression that he was considering changing his faith. As punishment, the archbishop commanded that Amnon’s hands and feet be cut off. This happened just before the Jewish New Year, and Amnon, dying of his wounds, had himself carried into the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah during the services. As the cantor was about to recite the Kedusha, or Sanctification, Amnon stopped him, saying: “Pause that I may sanctify the most holy Name.” He then began the hymn starting with the words U’netaneh Tokef, We will celebrate the mighty holiness of this day. When he reached the words “and our Name hast Thou linked with Thine own,” Amnon died. The famous Rabbi Meshullam ben Kalonymus of Mayence (ca. 1000 C.E.) who published this poem, is considered its author. Since then, U’netaneh Tokef has been a part of Rosh Hashanah services.

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