The Judeo-Spanish Folk Songs in Israel: Sephardic Music and Literature between Survival and Revival

in European Journal of Jewish Studies
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The aim of this article is to examine the growing interest and involvement with Ladino folk songs in Israel in recent years. Its particular focus is on an overview of the stage performances, the rerecording of Ladino songs by a new generation of artists, and the inclusion of Sephardic music in the growing repertoire of Israeli folk music. The article presents a socio-cultural survey that attempts to answer the following questions: Is the growing involvement with Ladino folk songs in the realm of conservation—in other words, repetition—of the age-old Ladino cultural heritage, or are we witnessing a cultural process whose main thrust is appropriation and whose goal is to use new instruments to bring the cultural wealth from the past into the present and present it to a new generation, not necessarily the current generation of the Sephardic ethnic group?

European Journal of Jewish Studies

The Journal of the European Association for Jewish Studies (Formerly: EAJS Newsletter)

References

4

See Matilda Koen-Sarano, Vini Kantaremos (Jerusalem: Author’s Edition, 1993); Susana Weich-Shahak, Romancero sefardí de marruecos (Madrid: Alpuerto, 1997); Susana Weich-Shahak, La boda sefardí: música, texto y contexto (Madrid: Alpuerto, 2007).

8

On this, see Dwora Roth, The Ladino Culture and its Presentation in Contemporary Hebrew Literature Prose (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University, 2006).

18

See David Gurevitz and Dan Arav, Encyclopedia of Ideas: Culture, Thought, Media (Tel-Aviv: Babel, 2012), 726–728 [Hebrew].

19

Baruch Kimmerling, “The New Israelis: Plurality of Cultures without Multicultures,” Alpayim 16 (1998): 264–308 [Hebrew].

20

Kimmerling, “The New Israelis,” 264.

26

Mally Shechory, “Ethnic Stereotypes and Social Distance in Israeli Society,” Social Issues in Israel 1 (2006): 64–88 [Hebrew].

27

See: Tamar Alexander, The Heart is a Mirror: The Sephardic Folktale (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008), 3–14.

28

Yohanan Peres and Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Cleavages in Israeli Society (Tel-Aviv: Am Oved and Sapir Library, 2006), 138 [Hebrew].

30

Peres and Ben-Rafael, Cleavages in Israeli Society, 139.

32

Judith R. Cohen, “Judeo-Spanish Song as Identity Marker, from Iberian Neo-Sephardic Activities to the Internet,” Proceedings of the 12th British Conference on Judeo-Spanish Studies, eds. Hilary Pomeroy and Michael Alpert (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 159–167.

34

See Edwin Seroussi, “The Growth of the Judeo-Spanish Folksong Repertory in the 20th Century,” Proceedings of the 10th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division D, Vol. ii (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1990): 173–180; Edwin Seroussi, “Sephardic Music: Bibliographical Guide with a Checklist of Notated Sources,” jfer 15(2) (1993): 56–61; Susana Weich-Shahak, “El rol de la mujer en el repertorio musical sefardí: interprete y personaje,” El Prezente: Studies in Sephardic Culture 3 (2009): 273–291.

35

Judith R. Cohen, “ ‘Pero la voz es muy educada’: Reactions to Evolving Styles in Judeo-Spanish Song Performance,” Hommage à Haïm Vidal Sephiha (Sephardica), eds. Winfried Busse and Marie-Christine Varol-Bornes (Bern et al.: Peter Lang, 1996), 65–82; Judith R. Cohen, “Judeo-Spanish Song as Identity Marker, from Iberian Neo-Sephardic Activities to the Internet,” 159–167.

36

Cohen, “Reactions to Evolving Styles in Judeo-Spanish Song Performance,” 65.

37

Cohen, “Judeo-Spanish Song as Identity Marker,” 166.

38

Cohen, “Judeo-Spanish Song as Identity Marker,” 160.

39

Cohen, “Judeo-Spanish Song as Identity Marker,” 165.

40

Cohen, “Reactions to Evolving Styles in Judeo-Spanish Song Performance,” 69. Even so, it is important to note that from a critical perspective Cohen’s statements are questionable, as she does not live in Israel, is unaware of the developing cultural dynamics in Israel, and her perception of the developments in Ladino folk songs are the perceptions of a researcher outside the Israeli cultural circle. In addition, Cohen’s conclusions are possibly motivated by personal taste, style and preference, such that the same can be said for the criticism she voices regarding events in the Israeli cultural landscape.

42

Seroussi, “The Growth of the Judeo-Spanish Folksong Repertory in the 20th Century,” 173–180.

43

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Tel-Aviv: The Open University, 1999), 36, 55, 64 [Hebrew].

44

Michal Held, “ ‘The People Who Almost Forgot’: Judeo-Spanish Web-Based Interactions as a Digital Home-Land,” El Prezente: Studies in Sephardic Culture 4 (2010): 84.

45

See David Gurevitz and Dan Arav, Encyclopedia of Ideas: Culture, Thought, Media (Tel-Aviv: Babel, 2012), 1023.

46

See Gurevitz and Arav, Encyclopedia of Ideas, 1024.

48

Hadas Pal-Yarden, The Judeo-Spanish Songs Repertoire in Jerusalem Nowadays: New Social Significance of Traditional Repertoire (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University, 2001).

50

Cohen, “Reactions to Evolving Styles in Judeo-Spanish Song Performance,” 65–82.

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