News & Views

Biweekly News & Views
Sept. 5-17, 2000

  • Shas: A Sephardic Revolution?   click here

  • Open House in Washington, DC.

  • New Director Leah Hadad

  • Latest CD from Za'atar

  • Jews and Latinos?

  • September programs

  • Morocco

  • Insider News



    Open House in the Nation's Capital

    Sunday, September 17, 2000  Ivri-NASAWI, the New Association of Sephardi/Mizrahi Artists & Writers International, celebrates the launch of a new fourth chapter in the nation's capital, with an Open House featuring Israeli author Yerah Gover, Turkish poet Murat Nemet-Nejat and Bosnian vocalist  Flory Jagoda.

    Flory Jagoda
    Flory Jagoda, second from right; click on the photo for a detailed bio.

    The organization, established in 1996 in Los Angeles, opened chapters in New York and San Francisco in 1998.

    Says the DC-Baltimore chapterís acting director, Leah Hadad, an attorney of Israeli-Yemenite descent [see accompanying story], "Our hope is to present a fuller spectrum of Jewish experience in DC by providing a stage for the creative, cultural, artistic, and intellectual achievements of the diverse Jewish communities of Sephardi and Mizrahi descent." Notes the organization's founder and executive director, Jordan Elgrably, whose family originates in Morocco, "We are also strongly committed to the principle of cross-cultural cooperation, so that we support the strengthening of ties within the Jewish community as well as between all peoples of Middle Eastern descent."

    Ivri-NASAWI plans monthly public programs, including a book launch party for Hazzan Ramón Tasat on Sephardic music on October 18 and a panel, Morocco: North, South, East and West featuring scholars Gil Anidjar, Alegria Bendelac and Habiba Boumlik, November 9 at the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center in Annandale.

    The Open House, to be held at Bethesdaís La Promenade, will feature Yerah Gover, an Israeli sociologist and former screenwriter for Israeli director Moshe Mizrahi. Gover, author of Zionism: The Limits of Moral Discourse in Israeli Hebrew Fiction, will discuss the work of Sephardi/Mizrahi authors Shimon Ballas, Sami Michael and Albert Swissa.  Turkish-born poet Murat Nemet-Nejat will read original and Turkish poetry in translation, and talk about growing up the son of Persian Jews in Istanbul's Sephardi quarter. Bosnian vocalist Flory Jagoda, a resident of Falls Church, will perform traditional Sephardi music of Sarajevo and the Balkans.

    Sunday, Sept. 17, 6-9 pm, at Chef Ferrariís La Promenade, 5225 Pooks Hills Rd., Bethesda. Free parking, Arcade Level, Southside. Free, with kosher champagne and dessert. Reservations are necessary as seating is limited. To RSVP and for further information, please contact Leah Hadad, 202-537-0708.


    A New Director for a New Chapter

    These days, Leah Hadad is an American attorney-at-home rather than an attorney-at-law, raising two children. However, her story begins in Israel, where she was born to two Yemeni parents, who emigrated to Israel on the "Magic Carpet" airlift of 1949. Leah wound up studying philosophy and sociology at Tel-Aviv University; she later completed her B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Maryland, then returned to study law, and received a J.D. degree from Howard University School of Law, in Washington D.C. "At Howard," she says, "I gained a new perspective on the African-American community and the different social issues it faces."

    Leah is a member of the Bars of the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland.

    As the Acting Director for the new Washington, DC-Baltimore chapter, Leah Hadad is primarily interested in representing the achievements of Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews to a wide variety of organizations and individuals in the region. She welcomes your feedback, suggestions and volunteerism, and will continue to work with other area activists and members of Ivri-NASAWI, notably attorney Jeffrey Weinstein and educator Esther Robbins. Email:.

    MizrahZa'atar, is a Bay Area ensemble of mostly younger Jewish performers, who are furthering their musical repertoire and love for the music of the Jews of Arab/Muslim lands. "Mizrah" or East is their second CD, and reflects a deep affection for the tones and rhythms of Middle Eastern music, coupled with the desire to sing in Sephardi-accented Hebrew. (Intentionally, this music will put you in mind of Moroccan piyutim and Syrian pizmon, orliturgical singing.) Za'atarFolklorists at heart, they are also interested in what new possibilities fusion can bring, and this CD represents an improvement and a deepening of what they accomplished on their first effort in 1998. "Hokhma Bina" includes words by Pinhas Bobo, for example, and music by Farid Al-Atrash; a traditional Yemenite tune is "Eshal Elohai" with words by Rabbi Shalom Shabazi; and there is a traditional Algerian piece, "Ki Eshmera Shabbat," with words by Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra. The group has performed at some heavy-hitting events, including last year's World Festival of Sacred Music, and continues to evolve. Za'atar features John Erlich on oud, Ron Elkayam on percussion, Amit Bleiweiss on ney, Scott Armel on saz, Daniel Ratner on bass, Ittai Shaked on violin and Daniel Eshoo on kanun; all of the musicians perform vocals, with Amit Bleiweiss the featured vocalist. For purchasing information, go to

    Jews and Latinos?

    September 8, 2000 / 1 Elul 5760

    Ethnic Ties That Bind
    By: Daniel Belasco, Staff Writer
    Jewish Week

    From the arts to politics to the academy, Jews and Latinos are increasingly adding each other to the extended family.

    There was something unusual about the news release for a screening of highlights from last weekend's New York International Latino Film Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Instead of featuring directors like Felipe Galindo or Edwin Figueroa, the two bold-faced names in the headline were Danny Hoch and Seth Zvi Rosenfeld.

    "Everyone was wondering why we were showing Danny's movie," says Calixto Chinchilla, director of the festival. Actor and writer Hoch plays a number of Latino characters in "Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop," the film version of hit one-man stage show. "But audiences have loved it. Itís so Nuyorican," using the word for New York Puerto Rican style.

    Neither Hoch nor Rosenfeld is Latino. Both are New York-born Jews who exemplify the growing cultural and political ties between Jews and Latinos now emerging in the country, a trend that reaches from the corridors of power in Washington to the hip-hop generation in downtown New York to academic identity politics.

    read the complete article by Daniel Belasco in this week's Jewish Week at


    September Programs*

  • Sept 9 L.A. & NY 17 Kurdish Concert Tour with Sivan Perwer, the Voice of Kurdistan This rare US tour with Sivan Perwer is not to be missed. The musicians are Sivan Perwer: vocalist and tanbur, Ismet Alattin Demirhan on ney, zurna, and duduk, Hassan Kenjo on kanoon, with Najmatin Najm on violin, and Afsheen Mehr on daf. The Los Angeles concert takes place at the Wilshire Ebell on Sat., Sept. 9, 8 pm, 4401 West 8th Street. Information & charge: 310-470-5177. Tickets: $25, $20, $15. The New York concert takes place at Symphony Space, 7:00 pm, Broadway at 95th Street, NYC.  Information/charges 212-545-7536, box office 212-864-5400. $26; students $15. The ensemble also appears in San Diego on Sept. 8, Phoenix on Sept. 10, Dallas on Sept. 29, and Nashville on Sept. 20. For more information, go to the Kereshmeh Records website,

  • Sept 9-30, L.A. Veiling/Unveiling Exhibit of Iranian art. This group show organized by the Iranian Women's Association in Los Angeles, includes the paintings, photography and sculpture of 18 Iranian artists, both women and men, Muslims and Jews. Much of the work reflects a contemporary sensibility, rather than strictly narrative Persian tradition, and is thought-provoking. Artists are Nahid Hagigat, Shahla Sepehr Bebe, Shida Pegahi, Anahita Gheytanchi, Ali Ahmadpour, Elahe Amani, Fatemeh Dadgar, Vesta Goodarz, Noshin Nafisi, Nahid Rafie, Adel Rakhshani, Mandis Razavi, Laila Salartash, Aida Shabani, Ensieh Tasdighi, Yassaman Ameri, Taraneh Hemami, and Guity Seif Afkhami. Eagle Rock Community Cultural Center, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. 323-226-1617.

  • Unveiling/Veiling
    Read "Exhibition Exposes Attitudes Towards Tradition of Veiling" by Anne-Marie O'Connor in the Los Angeles Times, at or Veil/Unveil.
  • Sept. 10, L.A., 3 pm Israel/Palestine, The Right of Return, Sharing Jerusalem A panel with Syrian American sociologist Elaine Hagopian, a long-time activist for peace and justice in the Middle East.  She is joined by Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr., one of the principal architects of America's Civil Rights Movement and an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; recently Lawson has been part of the movement to end the sanctions in Iraq; he spoke at the Shadow Convention in Los Angeles last month and champions reconciliation and nonviolent protest.  The third panelist is Nader Abuljebain, a Palestinian from Jaffa, currently living in California who has written many historical and political articles about the Palestinian struggle. Jordan Elgrably is the fourth panelist and will represent a progressive Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) Jewish perspective on the peace process. Moderator Michel Shehadeh is a Palestinian from Birzeit. September 10, 2000, 3 pm, Unitarian Church of Orange County. 511 South Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. Free. Organized by ADC West Right of Return Taskforce; sponsored by American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Greater Los Angeles/Orange County chapter; Palestinian American Women Association of Southern California, The Arab Community Center; Birzeit Society; Orange County Peace and Justice International Action Center (IAC); Veterans for Peace of Orange County; American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); The Cousins Club of OC; Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Southern California; The Arab American Press Guild; The General Union of Palestinian Women; Open Tent Middle East Coalition. For further information, call 714-636-1232.



    Support Sephardi/Mizrahi Cultures

  • Sept 11, N.Y., 7:30 pm. Conversations on Roots & Identity 5, Ivri-NASAWI's living room series, presents guest speaker Vivienne Roumani-Denn on Libyan Jews, followed by discussion of Mizrahi issues. Light refreshments. Open to the public, but you must RSVP with Joyce Maio: 212-362-9074, or email . 390 West End Ave Apt 2M, entrance on Broadway. Phone night of event, 212-874-0832.

  • Ramon TasatSept 12, N.Y. ,6.30 p.m. Sephardic Songs For All  Hazzan Ramón Tasat, a native of Argentina and an ethnomusicologist who frequently lectures to the Jewish and wider community, will give a lecture demonstration at the American Sephardi Federation, 15 W. 16th. St., New York. For reservations please call 212-294-8350.

     Sept. 16, L.A., 5:00 pm. Reception for Artist Jacob El Hanani, Mark Moore Gallery, Bergamot Station A-One, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. El Hanani, whose work is collected in 25  American museums, was born in Casablanca and now lives and works in New York. 310-453-3031.

     Sept. 17, D.C, 6-9 pm. Open House/Salon for New DC Chapter The nationís capital is organizing a new chapter to support/celebrate Sephardi/Mizrahi cultural expression. [See lead story, above.] The evening includes Yerah Gover speaking on Sephardi/Mizrahi writers in Israel, including Shimon Ballas, Albert Swissa and Sami Michael; Turkish poet Murat Nemet-Nejat will talk about growing up as a Persian Jew in Istanbul and perform his poetry; and Bosnian Sephardi performer Flory Jagoda presents a selection of music. Free, kosher dessert and champagne. Chef Ferrari's La Promenade restaurant, 5225 Pooks Hills Rd., Bethesda, MD. Arcade level, southside, free parking. RSVP 202-537-0708. Email: .

  • Sept. 21, S.F.,  8:00 pm Conversations on Roots & Identity, a monthly series new to San Francisco, will launch by collaborating with the San Francisco Hillel's new series, The Face of Jewish Identity, hosted by Miri Hunter Haruach and with a talk by Jordan Elgrably, "Other Jews/Other Arabs." 121 Stewart St. To RSVP call 415-333-4922, or email



    Sept. 22-Oct.1 Arabian Sights Film Festival The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies a co-sponsor of Arabian Sights:
    Contemporary Arab Cinemaas part of the Washington, DC, International Film Festival. The fifth annual Arabian Sights film series, which includes six films, offers some of the newest and finest cinema from the Arab world today. All films in this series are provided with English subtitles. All showings will be at the Loews Cineplex Foundry Theaters, 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW (Georgetown, off M Street between 30th and 31st Streets). Admission is $8 per person for each screening.  Tickets for any film in the series may be purchased at the theater starting one hour before the show. Tickets for the six films will be available as a special package for $40 at the start of the series only. For more information on films and schedules, call 202-724-5613 or visit

    MoroccoSept. 24, N.Y., 11 am Morocco: Jews and Art in a Muslim Land, Jewish Museum, 5th Ave. at 92nd St. Exhibit, which runs through Feb. 11, 2001, focuses on Morocco's multicultural art and traditions and the history of Jewish life in Morocco for over 2,000 years. More than 180 objects, among them Orientalist paintings by well-known European artists such as Eugene Delacroix and Alfred Dehudenocq; beautiful jewelry and ceremonial objects of silver and gold; sumptuous textiles and costumes; and 19th and 20th century photographs will be on display. "The exhibition will depict a culture frm the vantage point of 'outsiders'---Orientalist painters and photographers---and from the 'insider's' perspective of the objects Jews created for themselves and others. Vistors will be encouraged to consider the impact of Muslims, Jews, and Europeans on Moroccan cultureóa venerable culture that developed from Berber traditions." 212-423-3200.

  • Sept. 24, N.Y., 3:30 pm Jewish Calcutta Through Music and MemoryRahel Musleah with Rahel Musleah, journalist, author, storyteller and vocalist. Born in Calcutta, Rahel Musleah's family originated in Iraq, where they lived from the 1600s until migrating to India in 1820. Musleah came to the U.S. at the age of six, but she and her family have preserved Calcutta and Baghdadi Jewish traditions. Program sponsored in part by the New York Council for the Humanities, The Judaica Museum, Hebrew Home for the Aged, 5961 Palisade Ave., Riverdale, NY. 718-581-1392.

  • Sept. 27, L.A., 7:30 pm Conversations on Roots & Identity, new to L.A. with monthly programs the last Wednesday of each month, launches in Los Angeles following the successful initiative in New York. Features a discussion on Morocco, with fiction by Miriam Benchetrit Creamer, and the music of Shlomo Bar with a presentation by Jordan Elgrably. In Park La Brea. For address, directions and reservations, RSVP by Sept. 25, 323-650-3157.



    Conversations on Roots & Identity 2, on October 25, will feature Iran. Conversations 3 on November 29 will feature Libya.

  • Sept 28, DC-Baltimore, 6:30 p.m. Argentina & Sefarad with Hazzan Ramon Tasat. A native of Argentina and an ethnomusicologist. Dr. Tasat performs in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Strathmore Hall, 10701 Rockville Pk. North Bethesda, MD. For reservations please call 301-530-0540.



    Insider News

    Special thanks to new and renewing members, including Supporting members Renée and Ed Sokolski, Palos Verdes, and Morris and Karen Watts Zagha, San Francisco, along with Simon Edery, Los Angeles, Saul Mathalon, Woodland Hills, Rita Fecher, New York, and Ella Shohat, New York.  We extend our heartfelt appreciation to new Benefactors, Abraham and Marian Sofaer of the Sofaer Foundation, of Palo Alto.

    Sept. 12 DC-Baltimore The Action Committee of Ivri-NASAWI DC-Baltimore Chapter, Sephardi/Mizrahi & Middle Eastern Cultures will hold its September meeting on September 12, 2000, at 7:30 p.m, 2807 Ellicott Street, N.W.,Washington, D.C. 20008. Everybody who is interested in finding ways to preserve and promote Sephardi/Mizrahi culture and traditions is invited to come and hear about Ivri-NASAWI and its mission, to share ideas, and to help in setting up the DC-Baltimore Chapter. 202-537-0709, email: .

    Oct. 3 Los Angeles The Programming Committee of the Los Angeles chapter meets Tuesday evening, Oct. 3, 7:30 pm, home of Miriam Benchetrit Creamer, 443 S. Alandele, in Park La Brea. 323-650-3157 or .

    Author member Gloria de Vidas Kirchheimer has published a collection of short stories, Goodbye Evil Eye (Holmes & Meier Distribution, 1-800-698-7781) and will be giving readings in the New York area in October. Watch for a review and reading schedule in our next issue of News & Views.

    *Ivri-NASAWI lists Sephardi/Mizrahi events produced by other organizations.
    Please be sure to call in your programs with 30 days advance
    notice whenever possible. To inquire about our affordable
    web rates, call (323) 650-3157 or email

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