The Music of Morocco’s Jewish Women

June 21 2022

For centuries, the Jews of Morocco were confined to Jewish quarters, where they cultivated a unique musical culture—especially the women among them. Moroccan-Jewish “romances,” as their songs were called, often reflected family histories that included being driven out of Spain. Aida Alami writes:

Vanessa Paloma Elbaz, an American scholar of Judeo-Spanish music at Cambridge University, has spent the last fifteen years collecting and archiving the voices of aging Jews in Morocco. To date she has inventoried over 2,000 entries (mostly recordings, and some photos and videos); a pilot of the archive is available online. Paloma Elbaz has family roots that date back five generations in Morocco.

“If we think we have no written texts from the women, we are wrong,” she said. “Some archives were sitting in Spain and nobody was paying attention to them.”

“It’s about learning how to read them,” she added. “They sent all kinds of messages. If they were sad about something, they would sing some of these songs to pass a message on to their husbands.”

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Jewish music, Moroccan Jewry, Sephardim, Spanish Expulsion

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship