The Music of Morocco’s Jewish Women

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.”

Read more at New York Times

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

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7