Ernest Bloch composed his three pieces From Jewish Life in 1924 and dedicated the set to Hans Kindler, solo cellist of the New York Philharmonic, who had previously given the successful premiere of the Hebraic Rhapsody for cello and orchestra "Schelomo" (Solomon), Bloch's best known work. Along with the suite Baal Shem (1923), and the Méditation hébraïque (1924), the triptych From Jewish Life belongs to a distinctive and unmistakable genus of pieces, in which Bloch's personal voice was now powerfully established as being "Jewish" in utterance above all else. But as the critic Erik Levi suggests, it is important to remember that "Bloch's Jewishness derived from an inner impulse, not through a conscious absorption of Hebraic folk elements." To this we could also add Bloch's own assertion: "it is neither my purpose nor desire to attempt a reconstruction of Jewish music, nor to base my work on more or less authentic melodies...I am not an archaeologist; for me the most important thing is to write good and sincere music."
But as Erik Levi continues to suggest, "In essence Bloch's Jewish music is emotional in feeling and colored by an exotic atmosphere. The melodic lines are declamatory, emphasizing intervals of an augmented second, and are often supported by impressionist harmonies." These qualities are felt especially powerfully in From Jewish Life; the three pieces are titled: 1. "Prayer" (Andante moderato); 2. "Supplication" (Allegro non troppo); 3. "Jewish Song" (Moderato). The overall atmosphere is one of intense sadness and introspection, and the series is concerned far less with virtuosity than with the peculiar power of expression that invariably distinguished such archaic and timeless themes as Bloch chose to employ in this work.