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Ed ito res

Sefarad-Israel is involved in the Spanish edition of the graphic novel “Chagall in Russia”, which will be presented at Expocómic together with the exhibition “Superheroes, secret identity” / DECEMBER 2011 /



// Editorial

Alef: information and opinion alef


Casa Sefarad Israel


We would like to use these pages to thank the many displays of loyalty we have had to the printed and electronic versions of Alef from readers all over the world. For over four years, in 47 issues, Alef has been a source of information and identity that has aimed to communicate the nature and objectives of our organisation. We would like to thank all the editors and designers, internal colleagues and, in particular, the many authors who have provided us with their reports and articles asking for nothing in return. We are sure that you will all be delighted with the new formats in which Alef will be communicating the activities of Sefarad-Israel and promoting Jewish culture.


El Museo del Prado acogió la Jornada Europea de la Cultura Judía

septiembre,  El pasado sábado 1 de

Europea con ocasión de la 8ª Jornada Sefarad-Israel de la Cultura Judía, Casa guiada al Museo organizó una visita conocer las reladel Prado, para dar a de los grandes ciones entre la pintura

IVA y la Biblia. ACTUALIDAD INFORMAT maestros del arte europeo ISRAEL Casa obras DE CASA SEFARAD El Museo atesora innumerables Sefarad bíbliY DE CULTURA JUDÍA la temática en las que se aborda

NÚMERO 8 1 MAYO 2008 www.casasefarad-isra



noticias de España

noticias del exterior







a fondo

Casa Sefarad Israel



judío. pensadores de origen un ciclo de debate con Trabajo' bajo el título 'Mujer y Casa Sefarad Israel programa Freire moderará el encuentro ilidad el 12 de marzo, espido ra, abordará la compatib Día de la Mujer Trabajado que, en el contexto del al el desempeño profesion y d maternida la entre


> SEFARAD-ISRAEL GENERAL DIRECTOR Álvaro Albacete GENERAL SECRETARY Miguel de Lucas HOLOCAUST AND ANTI-SEMITISM Henar Corbí CULTURE Esther Bendahan EDUCATION Sonia Sánchez MANAGER Ramón de Albert Meruéndano > ALEF MAGAZINE Coordinator of Culture and Opinion Fernando Martínez-Vara de Rey Contributors Esther Querub, Sarah Fernández and Samuel Grané Photography Pepe Méndez, Samuel Grané and Atlántida Comunicación (


Meanwhile, our regular date with friends of SefaradIsrael will be maintained through a website offering more responsive coverage of content, and more options for video and photography. In addition, we will also be publishing a monthly Newsletter that we will send to our reader database identifying the highlights of our programme for the coming month. This page may also be structured in the form of weekly agendas which, as usual, we will send by email. There will also be a printed version of the Newsletter, which will be available in our offices in Madrid, and which will be distributed at all of the events Sefarad-Israel is involved in.


News and design Atlántida Comunicación (



En el 25º aniversario de la mayúscula 'Shoah', y Círculo de Bellas Artes Casa Sefarad-Israel una retrospectiva que, programan en madrid recorrerá toda por primera vez en España, que asistirá galo, la filmografía del autor ción. a su inaugura

RETROSpECTIVA Claude lanzmann nÚmero


actUalidad infOrMatiVa de casa sefarad israel Y de cUltUra JUdÍa 1 oCTUBre 2010

This has been driven on the one hand by the maturity that comes from almost five-years of activity in the cultural and institutional field, which has led us to produce a publication with greater depth. We consider that the voices of the many professionals - including those working in Sefarad-Israel - who sympathise with or are just interested in Jewish issues deserve a space where they can air their ideas. We have therefore conceived the idea of a six-monthly publication with a vocation to act as a forum for opinions and content relating to issues affecting Israel, the Jewish community in Spain and the Diaspora. We will be aiming to offer a platform to renowned experts and to discuss current affairs, contributing to our basic aim of increasing knowledge of Jewish culture in Spanish society. The scope of this initiative will be extended through cooperation with other similar publications throughout the world, and by publishing content in Jewish-Spanish and Haketia; we will be defining the main elements of this approach shortly.

noticias exterior

noticias de España


de octubre Desde el próximo 20 de Cañete, el emblemático Palacio mayor, acogerá de la madrileña calle la nueva sede de Casa Sefarad-Israel

casa sefarad-israel estrena sede


As we have mentioned in previous editorials, our publication is undergoing a few changes in order to improve our communication. We have developed a new concept for Alef to improve its image and concept, with new resources and a more reflective style, but with the same commitment to communication inherent to SefaradIsrael.

> GOVERNING COUNCIL PRESIDENT Trinidad Jiménez VICE-PRESIDENT Esperanza Aguirre Gil de Biedma VICE-PRESIDENT Alberto Ruíz Gallardón



shimon peres UN NObEL DE LA pAz pRESIDENTE DE ISRAEL visita España en febrero El Presidente de Israel o aniversario del para celebrar el veinticinc s diplomáticas entre establecimiento de relacione rá su visita se inaugura España e Israel. Durante de Casa Sefarad-Israel. sede la oficial manera de

Alef is a monthly periodical published by Sefarad-Israel and Sefarad Editores. All rights reserved. Sefarad-Israel is not responsible for the editorial content or opinions expressed by the authors.

// Agenda


A 7:30 pm. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69) b Free admission

The Desert. A debate about the literature of Carlos Franz “El Desierto” (The Desert) is one of the most acclaimed novels by the Jewish Chilean writer Carlos Franz. Under said title, Sefarad-Israel is to stage a symposium as a tribute to his outstanding literary career. The event is to involve the participation of four prestigious personalities from the world of narrative and literary criticism: Mercedes Monmany, Berta Vias, Ernesto Pérez Zúñiga and César Antonio Molina. In the words of Esther Bendahan, manager of the Department of Culture of Sefarad-Israel: “The desert has biblical connotations, it is both healing and generating. The Jewish people crossed a desert so that the generation of slavery and the golden calf could be regenerated. In Hebrew, the terms word and desert have the same root. These arguments, and others of a more literary nature, will form the basis of the event with Carlos Franz, who was the cultural attaché of the Chilean Embassy, and who is an important writer and promoter of cultural events in our country”.



ceremony will be attended by representatives of the three governing institutions involved in Sefarad-Israel (the Regional Government of Andalusia, the Provincial Government of Jaen and Jaen Council). It will also be attended by Oren Bar-El, the Minister Councillor of the Embassy of Israel in Spain, and the Director General of Sefarad-Israel, Álvaro Albacete. Sefarad-Israel will offer a free dual programme with free admission. Firstly, the exhibition “25 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between Spain and Israel, as seen by press cartoonists in the two countries” will be opened in the Municipal Social Affairs Office of Jaen Council (C/ Cerón, 19), where it will be on display until 16 December. Subsequently, the Israeli artist Mor Karbasi will be performing Sephardic music at Jaen's Darymelia Theatre at 8 pm. The “25 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between Spain and Israel, as seen by press cartoonists in the two countries” exhibition offers an amicable and amusing look at two peoples linked by history, democracy and the shores of the Mediterranean sea. Thirty-two drawings, at times satirical and at others sentimental, have been collected from Israel and various Spanish magazines and newspapers. There are also another twelve pieces on current affairs by Israeli cartoonists.

S Jaén

Opening of the headquarters of the Andalusia regional office of SefaradIsrael The official opening of Sefarad-Israel's regional office in Andalusia in Jaen will take place on 2 December. The



S Pabellón de Cristal, Casa de Campo (Madrid)

Expocómic 2011: Chagall in Russia and Superheroes: Secret identities


Madrid's 14th International Comic Fair

is aimed at readers of comics, graphic novels and other forms of literature in which images play an important role. This eagerly anticipated event includes competitions, debates and cultural activities. Sefarad-Israel will be present at Expocómic 2011 in two ways: On Friday 2 at 4 pm there will be a roundtable discussion featuring Esther Bendahan to present the exhibition “Superheroes: Secret identities". This exhibition is the result of cooperation between the Fundación Spinoza and Sefarad-Israel; its objective is to reveal the Jewish roots behind the origins and adventures of some of the most famous superheroes. The exhibition will feature panels with images and information relating, among others, to the similarities between the Hulk and the Golem; the back-story of Professor Magneto being a Holocaust survivor; analogies between Spiderman and King David, both of whom were protected by a spider; and the original name of Superman (Kal-El), which en Hebrew means “The voice of God”. Meanwhile, at 5 pm on Friday 2 December, there will be a presentation of the graphic novel “Chagall en Rusia” (Chagall in Russia) at a roundtable discussion featuring Fernando MartinezVara de Rey. “Chagall en Rusia” is the work of the French Jewish author Joann Sfar. It has been translated into Spanish by Esther Bendahan and Fernando Martinez-Vara de Rey and part funded by SefaradIsrael. The novel re-creates the youth of an enamoured Chagall who uses painting and theatre to seduce the sceptic object of his love. Klezmer music, Jewish traditions and Cossack terror make up the colouristic Chagallian universe.


A 7 pm. S Escuela Julian Besteiro (C/ Azcona, 53 - Madrid)

"Spain and the Holocaust (II)" programme Sefarad-Israel is working with the UGT union's Escuela Julián Besteiro to organise the Spain and the Holocaust programme; we will be lending our exhibition “Visas for freedom” to the school which will be exhibiting it until 9 January. Roundtable: Crossed Memories of the Victims Presented and moderated by Henar Corbi, Director of the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Department of Sefarad-Israel Speakers: Siegfried Meir, who was interned in Auschwitz and Mauthausen as a child, "Testimony of a survivor". Concepción Díaz, Amical Mauthausen Association, "The deported Spanish Republicans". Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia, President of Unión Romaní, "The Gypsy genocide"



A 7 pm. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission

Pivenworld: the world of Piven and Superheroes: secret identities, two exhibitions that bring together graphic art and Jewish culture. “The Palacio de Cañete will be hosting two exhibitions with differing formats and purposes, but with a shared connection between Jewish authors and characters and the graphic


/ DECEMBER 2011 /



// Agenda tradition of comics and caricatures. These exhibitions will open on 13 December: these family-friendly exhibitions are ideal for visiting during the coming holidays. Pivenworld: the world of Piven. The collages by the Israeli illustrator Hanoch Piven, who was born in Uruguay, have appeared in US and European publications over the last 15 years. In addition to his prestigious work in the press, Piven has published books for children, created TV programmes and recently launched an iPhone app. Piven has been awarded the prestigious Gold Medal of the New York Society of Illustrators and the Silver Medal of the US Society of Publication Designers.

14 >DECEMBER A 6:30 pm. S Provincial Public Library of Jaen b Free admission.

“The cinema of Sefarad-Israel”. Jaén screens the short films of the Israeli film school “Ma´aleh” from Jerusalem The Ma´aleh shorts (documentaries, fiction and experimental) have been shown at many international festivals, and have been awarded a multitude of prizes; they represent a unique cultural and educational resource that helps us to get to know and better understand the religious world of Israel, which is so frequently unknown and even mysterious, through the eyes of those who live there day-to-day and who try to show how their life experiences conflict with their beliefs. The Ma´aleh School of Television, Cinema and Art was founded in 1989 for religious students whose work is inspired by, or related to, their Jewish identity. The School tries to



/ DECEMBER 2011 /

build bridges between Jewish traditions and current Israeli social problems, and between the religious and secular worlds. The students create films with impeccable aesthetics, in which Judaism is explored on the screen freely and artistically, establishing a new voice to reflect the multicultural mosaic of Israel today.


A 7:30 pm. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Free admission

Presentation of the book: Israel, Siglo XXI. Tradicion y vanguardia (Israel, 21st century: Tradition and vanguard) To mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel, a host of authors from the two countries have been involved in a book that reflects on historic, socio-political, and cultural aspects of the State of Israel. Authors including Horacio Vázquez-Rial, Pilar Rahola, José Antonio Lisbona, Natan Lerner and Adolfo Roitman have all contributed to an exciting initiative by the president of the Balearic Islands-Israel Cultural Relations Association, Jacqueline Tobiass, and the UNED distance learning university professor Alfredo Lavié. Sefarad-Israel is taking part in this initiative through chapters written by Esther Bendahan and Fernando Martinez-Vara de Rey. The presentation ceremony for the book will be led by the Israeli Ambassador, Alon Bar, and the Director of SefaradIsrael, Álvaro Albacete. The event will also feature Juan Antonio Gimeno Ullastres, (the Rector of the UNED), Carlos Iglesias, (Director General of the Netbiblo publishing company) and Alfredo Hidalgo Lavié and Jacqueline Tobiass, the coordinators of: Israel, Siglo XXI.


Tradición y vanguardia (Israel: 21st century: Tradition and the vanguard).


A 7:30 pm. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69) b Free admission

AN 2012: crowdfunding or the revolution in art on the internet Mass financing, or microsponsorship - also known as "crowdfunding" - is a new financing model that aims to raise the money needed to carry out creative projects using the Internet. It is based on an artist describing their project, publicising it and preparing a budget for it. In a fixed, limited term, he/she receives contributions from the sponsors, users who like the project and become involved in it. The contributions are finally made only if the finance is completed when the term ends. In exchange, the sponsors receive rewards: gifts, discounts, experiences, etc. Under these premises, a new Spanish film project is taking place: AN 2012, conceived by Federico Eines. This young filmmaker of Jewish origin will explain to us the impact this new form of finance is having on the art industry in general and on the audiovisual industry in particular, especially in the current economic crisis, and that it is bringing about a genuine change of paradigm in finance: the audience is brought into the equation and the rules of the game change continuously. The AN 2012 project represents a leap forward in the crowdfunding concept; its communication strategy is based on a series of short documentary films related to the struggle to make AN 2012, under the slogan “financing film… making film”. Federico Eines and his


team will offer us a preview of some of the images from the second season of the series AN 2012: I WANT FILMS, which is to premiere on the project website on 5 February. Through their experience, they will comment on their interpretation of the key factors behind crowdfunding: The public decides; financing is promotion; building an audience; the virtual audience; the end of intermediaries; and watching is financing.


A 7:30 pm. S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Entrance: €15. More information at http://www.

Charity concert for children with brain damage Sefarad-Israel is making its space in Madrid available for a guitar and violin concert by the Duo Sonidos. The duo consists of the musicians Adam Levin - a North American Jew - and William Knut; their first CD includes compositions by Arcangelo Corelli, Salvador Brotons, Eduardo MoralesCaso, Astor Piazzola and Manuel de Falla. This is a charity concert at the initiative of Soroptimist International (www. soroptimistinternational. org). This is a prestigious organisation of professional women that aims to improve the world of women through understanding, commitment and action. Soroptimist International is an NGO with general consultancy status before the United Nations and maintains a position of strict neutrality in terms of politics and religion. It currently has more than 90,000 members and is structured into four federations: America, Europe, Great Britain and Ireland and the South East Pacific. The European Federation has over


35,000 members in some 1,200 clubs in 58 countries. Soroptimist International is a fund-raising body that provides help where it is needed and proposes specific solutions to real problems in different areas: economic and social development, education and culture, health, the environment, human rights and the status of woman, fostering international goodwill and understanding. On this occasion, Soroptimist International Europe-Club de Madrid, in collaboration with Sefarad-Israel, offers a charity concert for the AENILCE association, which looks after and educates children with brain damage. AENILCE is a Spanish association that cares for children between the ages of 0 and 18 years who have serious disabilities; the multiple services and treatments (transport, physiotherapy, speech therapy and stimulation) are tremendously expensive.

21 >DECEMBER A 6:30 pm. S Malaga

Hanukkah in Malaga Celebration of Hanukkah in Malaga's Calle Alcazabilla. Following the celebration in the street, there will be a concert by the Israeli singer Mor Karbasi


at the Regional Government of Malaga's Concert Hall at C/ Pacífico 54, Malaga.


A 7:00 pm S Plaza de la Villa, Madrid

Hanukkah in Madrid: The power of light “The power of light” is the slogan inspiring the celebration of Hanukkah in Madrid, which for the second year in a row will take place in Madrid's Plaza de la Villa. Our city is to join the celebration of one of the most famous Jewish festivals in a family event that is open to all citizens. The Jewish Community of Madrid, SefaradIsrael and Madrid Council have jointly organised an event that will feature the Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón. The programme lasts approximately one hour, and includes institutional greetings, musical performances and the traditional lighting of the first three candles that light up the Hanukkah candelabra. Buns (sufganiot) and spinning tops (sevivonim), typical of Hanukkah, will also be handed out. At 9:30 pm the festival will recommence in the Conde Duque Cultural Centre, where there will be a free performance of Sephardic music by the Israeli singer Mor Karbasi, who has Moroccan roots. A few


hours before this, Karbasí will be performing one of her songs in the Plaza de la Villa. Tradition has it that, around 2200 years ago, the Syrian Greeks did not allow the Jews of Israel to meet the demands of the Torah and interfered in their lifestyles and customs in an attempt to destroy their identity. In order to fight against the authoritarian practices they suffered, the Maccabees organised a revolt against Antiochus, the Syrian king, to recover the Temple that had been profaned. To turn the temple once again into a place without idols, suitable for the Jewish liturgy, the decision was taken to light up the candelabra and, although it only had enough fuel oil for one single day, miraculously, the light continued to burn for eight days. The Hanukkah festival remembers this miracle and is celebrated by lighting candles: one candle is lit on the first night; the second on the second night; and so on until all the candles are burning on the special eight armed Hanukkah candelabra on the last day. The Shamash is the ninth candle and is used to light the others.


A 10:30 am S Palacio de Cañete (Mayor, 69). b Registration: ilan .wolff@

The magic of photography. A combined workshop lasting 2, 4 or 5 days The Israeli artist Ilan Wolff specialises in creating photographs using the Camera Obscura technique, using cameras made from old boxes and tins. Sefarad-Israel is hosting a workshop taught by Ilan Wolff in three formats (2, 4 or 5 days), which will take place between 26 and 30 December. The photograph is 'magic' created with energy (light), chemicals and light-sensitive material (paper, wood or metal, etc.) and a lot of manual work and imagination! Today people no longer have a clear idea of where photography comes from, or the excitement of the development process... Today we are slaves to technology (digital cameras, Photoshop...) and they miss out on all the fantastic experiences!! During the workshop, we will work through all the stages in creating an image, from the construction of the cameras, taking photographs using our own cameras, developing the images on different surfaces, and creating a large format (175x125 cm) image, using the abundant resources of our own imaginations.



/ DECEMBER 2011 /



// Activities in pictures 1 Sefarad-Israel organised a debate involving people who have experienced life on a Kibbutz to mark the re-printing of the essay "The Kibbutz". The debate was moderated by Esther Bendahan and featured the publisher José Vicente Zalaya. 2 Álvaro Albacete receives the commemorative medal of the four Sephardic synagogues. The Prize was awarded by Abraham Haim, and features a medal created by the Israeli state medals and coins corporation commemorating the four central Sephardic synagogues in the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem.






3 Dr. Jaime Vándor, who survived the Nazi persecution in Budapest in 1944-1945, gave a number of presentations entitled “On the edge of the Holocaust”, at the Nuestra Señora del Pilar College (Madrid) and the IES Jimena Ménéndez Pidal School (Fuenlabrada). 4 The Mayor of Jaen, José Enrique Fernández de Moya, took part in the opening of the course of conferences entitled “The Jews in Spain: History and Culture”, organised by Sefarad-Israel's Andalucía Regional Office, which has its headquarters in Jaen. 5 The Palacio de Cañete is hosting an exhibition on Crystal Night loaned to it by Yad Vashem until early December. The 16 educational panels in the exhibition are aimed at schools and colleges. 6 In November, SefaradIsrael had the honour of receiving successive visits by representatives of the Jewish communities in Sweden, Brazil and Turkey.


/ DECEMBER 2011 /


7 Emisión Sefarad, a Radio 5 and Radio Exterior de España programme dedicated to Erensya. Miguel de Lucas and Fernando Mtz.-Vara de Rey took part in a programme that included a summit in Bulgaria with representatives of more than 20 Sephardic communities from all over the world. They answered questions from Viviana Rachel Barnatán in the JewishSpanish language on behalf of Sefarad-Israel.




// Cultural promotion On 22 December, Sefarad-Israel is organising its now traditional public celebration in Madrid's Plaza de la Villa of the popular festival of Hanukkah, or the "Festival of Lights" as it is more commonly known. The celebration involves one of the candles on a special candelabra known as a Hanukkah being lit at sunset each day until all eight are alight; this Festival is celebrated in Jewish homes and in the main cities of the Western world.

HANUKKAH, THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS BY BARUJ GARZÓN Why do we celebrate Hanukkah? What message do we get from this celebration dating back to the time of the Maccabees? What do the lights signify? Let's start by taking a brief look at the history of Hanukkah. Many centuries ago, Greece was a powerful empire that was trying to impose its culture and way of life on all. Many people including the Jews - welcomed Greek civilization, often enthusiastically, showing their admiration for its art, rhetoric and logic, which illustrated and defined a new current in thought. However, the small Jewish nation in the land of Israel detected a danger to their own national and religious identity in Greek paganism and idolatry. Being heirs to a long cultural tradition, and possessed of a deep spirituality and a well developed and shared

collective consciousness, the Jewish nation resisted being swallowed up by the uniformity of thought of the Greeks and their allies, the Hellenists, which was being imposed with ever greater brutality. The Jews refused to join in this imperialist project with the same determination as the Greeks were applying to erasing the badges of identity of the peoples they conquered. The spark of the rebellion came in the village of Modiin, close to Jerusalem. An old Jewish priest in the village named Mattityahu rose up against the imposition of the Hellenic cult on the people of Israel. He was joined by his sons and a few brave followers. This was the birth of the Maccabee rebellion. The Bible tells the story of a violent and unequal struggle that lasted three years, but which was won by the Maccabees against their powerful enemies, thus preserving their own values and signs of their identity.

This uprising ended with the defeat of the strongest by the weakest, who managed to liberate the land of Israel from foreign occupation, reconquer Jerusalem and purify the Sacred Temple that the idolaters had profaned; the Temple was then solemnly reinaugurated. And the meaning of Hanukkah is “inauguration”. However, our teachers did not choose the brilliant military victory as the main focus of the festival. Voluntarily ignoring the triumph of arms, unlike other peoples who would celebrate such victories for centuries, the sages of the Torah only wanted the ritual celebration of Hanukkah to remember a miracle that occurred at the end of the conflict, in the purified Temple. The story says that the priests searched for a container they had sealed before the invasion containing pure oil for lighting the Sacred Candelabra. However, all the pitchers had been opened by the idolatrous invaders and the oil used for their alien cults. There was only one small amphora left, with hardly enough oil to light the Temple for a single day. But, miraculously, it lasted for eight days until new oil prepared according to the ritual tradition was ready. This is why the festival of Hanukkah lasts eight days. We light one candle on the first night, and light an additional candle every night until they are all lit. Forgetting the memory of war, which is excluded from the celebration of Hanukkah, this festival came to represent an essential message of Jewish thought from the teaching of

the prophet Zechariah: “Not by might nor by power buy by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts”. And so it was that for the people at the time, as it is for us, the real miracle of Hanukkah was not the victory on the battlefield, no matter how marvellous and decisive it might have been, but the light symbolising the spiritual force of the Jewish people. By doing this they were expressing the real purpose of the struggle and the intentions of the heroic Maccabees, which was not to liberate the land and declare themselves independent of the Greek empire, but to frustrate the evil efforts of those who wanted to assimilate the people of Israel and make them disappear, extinguishing their light, separating them from their culture, depriving them of their liberty and dispossessing them of their identity. When we say in the Blessing of the Lights "in those days, at this time...”, we are reaffirming our determination in the here and now to keep alive the ideals of the people who "in those days" fought for their freedom so that each one of us "at this time" can continue to enjoy such freedom. The divine miracles, such as the one we celebrate at Hanukkah, rewarded the effort and determination of those who refused to abdicate their responsibility as men when faced with repression and subjected to violence. As a result of this message of hope, which is always alive and always vital, today Hanukkah is, more than ever, a universal festival.

/ DECEMBER 2011 /



// Cultural promotion

“My city is dead. The road to Vitebsk has already been taken! All my relatives are dead... My memory is in flames” “MI VIDA” (MY LIFE), MARC CHAGALL. EDITORIAL ACANTILADO

Of all the ways of discovering the life of Marc Chagall, none is as effective as direct knowledge of his paintings. The legacy of canvases immortalising his work reveals appetites and dreams, discoveries and excess. The stunning range of colours he employed and his thirst for geometry contained a description of the rustic world of his childhood, the Jewish nature of his village, the explosion of love, the discovery of Bohemian Paris, and the radiant delirium of flying. Chagall reinvented people and places with his brush, creating statues in the realm of the weightless.

MARC CHAGALL, MEMORY IN FLAMES BY FERNANDO MTEZ-VARA DE REY These passions overflow from “Mi vida” (My Life) his autobiography, which was originally written in Russian and published in France in 1931. Using language as succinct as sketches and as accurate as brushstrokes, Chagall describes the main events in his first 44 years, concluding with his return to a Russia suffocating in the grip of the Bolshevik Republic. As with his early paintings, he begins his book in his native town of Vitebsk (Belarus). He describes the happy times of his childhood simply and melancholically:


/ DECEMBER 2011 /

“the first thing I saw with my eyes was a cattle trough”. Chagall remembers games, lessons and everyday life, together with memorable events such as the bite of a rabid dog and the "piercing cry" of his brother just after he is born. Chagall talks about his grandfather with his “long black beard”; his father who worked in a herring warehouse, and his Idishe Mame, so upright in life, and so missed in heaven (“Tell me, mother: from the other side, from heaven, from the clouds, wherever you are, does my love console you?”) The artist's lifecycle, sensibilities and memories were marked by Jewish traditions. “Mi vida” evokes

the lit candles and opulent table of the Sabbath, the solemnity and pardon of Yom Kippur, the ceremony of “tefilim”, at which he had to give his recital of adolescence standing on a chair. The liturgical atmosphere of his village formed part of his identity and planted questions and answers that would later illuminate his greatest works. The realistic scenes of his early work depicting rabbis, musicians and scenes from “shtetl” life, gave way to brilliant “collages” combining Christian, Jewish and pagan elements. He first embarked on the path to becoming a painter within the confines of his

thoughts in “Mi vida”: “I wanted to put them in my canvases, to protect them”. Sfar's brilliant script is accompanied by high-quality drawings that evoke the atmosphere and characters. The extreme emotions involved in sensuality and death are handled masterfully, as are the other scenes in the young Chagall's life - open countryside, the theatre, the brothel. The drawings also give the grotesque and disparate characters who accompany him on his adventures their own motivation and personalities.

© 451 Editores

© 451 Editores

infant world: “That was the time when I became intoxicated by drawing. I didn't understand what this meant”. The initial resistance of his family - which was committed to the value of learning a trade - gradually developed into hesitant tutoring. The young Chagall entered Mr Pen's painting school where he aspired to be a "silent craftsman", with no inkling of the future that lay before him. The chapters of “Mi vida” dedicated to Chagall's years in Vitebsk have served as a distant inspiration for the graphic novel “Chagall en Rusia”, published in Spain by Editorial 451, which Esther Bendahan and I have had the privilege of contributing to by translating the text. “Chagall en Rusia” is the work of the Jewish Frenchman Joann Sfar, who is recognised for his career as an artist and writer of comics, and for his parallel career as a film director.

“Chagall en Rusia” presents a very free interpretation of the painter's childhood, using a creative spirit and love of beauty to evoke the man portrayed in “Mi vida”. However, unlike the tranquil times in which he lives, Sfar has created a disturbed and often virulent landscape, in which the unreal is the only escape route. Hatred, intolerance, betrayal, madness, the burden of materiality all crowd in on the thirst for freedom of a Chagall who inverted the secular order in his creations. Among a swarm of extravagant characters, and amidst the disdain of another unmovable woman, Joann Sfar's Chagall builds a theatre whose cast of outlaws and prostitutes will upsets the animals. Humanity is cruel, hypocritical, brutal and can only be redeemed from its excesses by the strength of the artist; the denouement of “Chagall en Rusia” seems surely to have been inspired by one of the most beautiful

Joann Sfar deliberately reminds us of Chagall's powerful style: audacious use of colour, humour in compositions, the tone of dreams and the fabulous. His rebelliousness was rooted in his universe of fictions and counterpoised elements, but where did Marc Chagall's spirit of transgression come from? Chagall defied schools and pigeonholes: he admired Degas and Picasso, but refused to be labelled a Fauvist or a Cubist; he read Apollinaire and Breton, but did not feel himself to be a Symbolist or a Surrealist; he copied the randomness of dreams, but refused to interpret them, despite the Freudian fashion of the time. Chagall overcame the iconoclastic tradition of Judaism and was a pioneer in portraying its liturgy and character. His triumph is the triumph of an artist who is totally free, with a strong sense of his vocation (“I painted everything I could see”), non-conformist and prophetic (“I don't want to be like the others, I want to see a new world”), capable of creating new life whilst retracing the steps to the four corners of the world.

/ DECEMBER 2011 /



// Guest opinion


One of the most appealing aspects of the “Western” as a genre is its moral depth and purity. Loyalty, bravery, doing the right thing, justice and even love are the essential luggage on any journey to freedom. Thinking of the "Wild West", let me tell you the story of my return to Fatherland, the cradle of my ancestors, in the Czech Republic. Chance resulted in the landscape drawn in pencil by my great-great-grandfather Moritz taking me to the distant frontier town called Fatherland. My first visit was to the Jewish cemetery, on a hill to the west of the village. It was protected by a dense pine wood and enclosed by a wall. I had to go and search for a local who could tell me how to get in. The sun was beating down and there was not a soul around. Then I saw an old man at a window. Without going any further, I introduced myself as an “Antscherl”, thinking that he might recognise the surname. ‘Oh, I know Professor Antscherl. Come in, you are very welcome’, the man said before suddenly disappearing. The old man - by the name of Mirabelsky - came down to greet me. When I saw the whole

10 / DECEMBER 2011 /

man, his image was much more comforting and youthful. He looked like the County Sheriff, but his tone of voice was friendly and parochial. Fortunately for me, he was still the guardian of the cemetery. In the course of this life, he had met Professor Moritz Antscherl several times, and had fond memories of him. But Moritz had left the ghetto about a century and a half ago. He was the grandfather of “Opa”, my beloved, deceased grandfather. ‘Who was I talking to, Tom Sawyer? ’, I thought, a little upset. Given this confusing situation, I felt obliged to get out my Smartphone and point its lens at him.

Moritz Antscherl, the son of a merchant, was educated in German. As a child, he went to school with the composer and musician Gustav Mahler. Like many Jews of his generation, in 1867 he was granted Austro-Hungarian citizenship with full rights and he moved to Vienna during the most glorious cultural flowering of the Habsburg monarchy. He studied for higher-level qualifications at the Mineralogy Institute. Later in life, in 1877 he visited the arid lands of Palestine together with the famous geologist Eduard Suess, and explored the Valley of Petra in Jordan.

The whole story seemed crazy, but it was starting to have a hint of reality. To understand it, we need to go back to 1454. King Ladislav V was accusing the Jews in the province of collaborating with the Hussite movement and being critical of ecclesiastical power. As a result, he decreed that they should be expelled from towns such as Jihlava. Forced to disperse, they settled in thirty small communities, segregated and separated by walls which served as their protection during the whole Mediaeval period. With just sixteen houses and being the size of a 7-eleven store, Fatherland had the smallest population of any of these.

Mirabelsky was not Jewish, but he had always had a certain admiration for his Jewish neighbours. In 1985, before the Soviet empire collapsed, the suspicious old man stopped the old synagogue of Fatherland suffering the same fate. The synagogue, led by Rabbi Simon F. Myslovic, had brought together several virtuoso cantors. Their Sabbath melodies were famed throughout the province, and were even popular among their Christian neighbours. Mirabelsky told me about life in the old Jewish quarter and some of its most notable inhabitants, such as the sculptor Ignatz Stein, and the village butcher, Julius Hamlish.

Main image, the Jewish cemetery of Fatherland, in the Czech Republic. Above, the author's ancestor, Moritz Antscherl. Below, Mirabelsky.

Thanks to this old guardian, the old Jewish quarter and its memory survived. Following his visit to the Holy Land, Moritz focused his career on Jewish education and the revitalisation of Hebrew and Sanskrit. He was an energetic person who knew how to evoke and communicate his strong convictions. He published many literary essays in magazines such as “Jung Juda” and “Ost und West” for refugees from the East, and these were important for the Jewish cultural renaissance and the providential fusion of ethnic and national Judaism. Moritz achieved a degree or recognition in intellectual circles. His complete works were compiled by Austria's Academic and Scientific

Dictionary. His fascination with the world resulted in him striking up a friendship with the Indian writer and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, with whom he exchanged letters until his death. Moritz died at the age of 85, and was buried in Vienna next to his wife, Auguste Weisse. Here five centuries of family history lay temporarily unexplored. Moritz always went back to Fatherland every summer. On one occasion, he met the young and curious Mirabelsky near the cemetery. He asked him, ‘Professor Antscherl, how important is it to be a rabbi?’ The professor raised his right hand and answered in his shaky but enthusiastic Czech: ‘Son, being a rabbi is less than being God, but more than being the Pope in

Rome’. It was a risky reply, as befits a “stranger”. With this still present memory of their first meeting, my friend Mirabelsky offered me some of his homebrewed liquor. And perhaps because of the effects of this liquor, I started to feel that the old Czech's eyes were turning back to their original blue. A little later, I managed to visit the small Fatherland cemetery. I didn't feel either sadness or grief. It was a peaceful place; three hundred names were floating in harmony amidst that thick forest. The oval tombstones were thrust into the earth to stop this harmony escaping. And the earth, moved, was offering up its finest flowers in reply. The inscriptions on marble and granite were written in German

and Hebrew, and some even in Czech. The sun, now sinking towards the horizon, cast shadows over the engravings, making the calligraphy easy to read and incomparably beautiful. I slipped between the crooked headstones of my ancestors. They were illustrated with jars of water, the Levite sign in the ancient kingdom of Judah. And at that moment, I would not have been upset by the idea of ending up one day in that dreamlike place; providing that there were guarantees that I would not be incommunicado and isolated by language throughout all eternity. I decided to replace the prayer of sadness with a witty but ceremonious “Thank you all for waiting for me’. My eventful journey was now going in the right direction, and the horizon was clear.

/ DECEMBER 2011 /



// Views of Israel

// Literary opinion

Operation Solomon BY FERNANDO MTEZ-VARA DE REY Hfernando.mvaraderey@

On 2 November, Israel commemorated the 20th anniversary of what is known as Operation Solomon. A ceremony led by the Minister of Immigration and Absorption, Sofa Landver, reminded the public of the daring plan to transport Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa to Israel. Over 36 hours a fleet of 34 aircraft provided a bridge that changed the fortunes of 14,325 citizens who were belittled by the proSoviet Mengistu regime. The famine that was desolating Ethiopia at the time was having a double effect on the Jewish community: Mengistu decreed the closure of schools and synagogues, the prohibition of the Hebrew language and the imprisonment of community leaders. Operation Solomon followed Operation Moses, which had taken place six years earlier. In this operation, over 45 days some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were evacuated in secret from refugee camps in the Sudan; however, Sudan was finally forced to refuse to cooperate in the operation due to pressure from Arab countries. These operations resulted in the longed for return of Ethiopian Jews to their ancestral land. The origins of this community - which refers to itself as “Beta Israel” - are imprecise and open to debate. Among the hypotheses proposed, there are some really astounding theories: some consider that they are descendents of the love affair between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; others think they are the lost tribe of Dan; the most grounded in history

12 / DECEMBER 2011 /

trace them to the exile in Egypt following the destruction of the first Temple or to descendents of the Christian population who embraced Judaism around the 15th century in opposition to the hegemony of the Coptic church. Twenty years later, the Ethiopian Jews are remembering the danger of their journey and the euphoria of their arrival. They were taken to the Promised Land, the Jerusalem of their prayers and their proverbs, in aircraft without seats so that as many people as possible could be transported. However, assimilation into Israeli society was not easy, as shown in Radu Mihaileanu's film “Live and become”. This process was made difficult by ethnic, socio-cultural and liturgical differences. Today, whilst there are lawyers, journalists and politicians among the Beta Israel, their unemployment rates are significantly higher, and their rates of educational achievement are considerably lower, than those of the rest of the population. And the most conservative parts of Israeli society have complained about divergences in religious practices and pushed for these new arrivals to be "reconverted" to Judaism. The Ethiopian Jews - who are also known, sometimes pejoratively, as “falashas” (Aramaic for “exiles” or “foreigners”) - have found themselves in a way of life very distant to that of their African homeland. Around 100,000 dark-skinned men and women with the blood of kings in their veins are aspiring to find their place in the open and mixed landscape of today's Israel.

‘Kadish por Gustav Mahler’ • Arnoldo Liberman • Sefarad Editores Arnoldo Liberman combines mythomania and melomania in a splendid essay entitled “Kadish por Gustav Mahler” (Kadish for Gustav Mahler). This work which is notable for its precision and passion contains a host of quotes and a warm epilogue about the Bohemian composer's whose music the author describes as having a “metaphysically moving” effect on him. Liberman has written eleven chapters which he describes as serpentine: these snake and interconnect so that they can be read in reverse or at random, like a hopscotch in two-four time. The author uses a range of biographical elements to evoke the personality and life of the composer: his early vocation for music; the tragic fate of seven of his brothers; his position as Director of the Vienna Opera which obliged him to convert to Catholicism. And the multi-faceted and febrile Vienna of the period develops into one more character in the cast of a work that defines it as “an immense creative chessboard”. ‘Hemingway y la lluvia de pájaros muertos’ • Boris Zaidman • Los Papeles de Sefarad The second volume in the collection “Los Papeles de Sefarad”, which is jointly-published by Sefarad-Israel, is devoted to the first work by Boris Zaidman. Zaidman and his family arrived in Israel in 1975 from what was then the Soviet Union, and this journey provided the inspiration for “Hemingway y la lluvia de pájaros

muertos” (Hemingway and the dead-bird rain). This evocative title refers to two stories from the author's childhood. The starting point for the story is the invitation to a young writer based on Israel - obviously based on Boris Zaidman - to take part in a cultural festival to be held in his native city of Dnestrograd. This return to the Ukraine unleashes a chain of memories for the writer that takes him back to his childhood, culminating in the longedfor return to his native land. The ironic tone of the opening pages gives way to a measured and melancholic style that reveals the extraordinary sensitivity of the child that was Zaidman. The pleasure of sweets, his stays at the house of his aunt Rosa, whose husband was in the gulag, his first trips on a tram, the discovery of new inventions and flavours in his new homeland... The background to this is the severe and restrictive world of the Soviet regime. From a child's viewpoint, Zaidman remembers the fear of his parents being detained, the antiSemitism bubbling over in the streets and his school; having to read some books in secret: “Brennen di melije - he said to himself - Burn the regime in which you have to burn books!” wFernando Mtez. Vara de Rey


// news IN SPAIN HARO Nicolás Muller at Bodegas Roda The exhibition “Maridajes 9” (Matchings 9) featuring the photography of Manuel Castro Prieto and the Jewish photographer Nicolás Muller will be on display in La Rioja until 31 March. LAS PALMAS The Apples in the Canary Islands The Israeli band The Apples performed a concert at the "SOS Alternative Music Festival" on 26 November. The Apples consists of musicians from Tel Aviv and Nueva York, playing a combination of Funk and Jazz. MADRID Presentation of a book on Mahler The book “Kadish por Gustav Mahler” (Kadish for Gustav Mahler) by Arnoldo Liberman (Sefarad Editores) will be presented at the Círculo de Bellas Artes on 20 December. The event will be attended by the author, poet and writer Félix Grande, the music critic Vela del Campo, the Mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, the psychoanalyst Gustavo Dessal and the publisher Horacio Kohan. CEJC Course Madrid's Centro de Estudios Judeo-Cristianos (JewishChristian Study Centre) is offering a course entitled “The New Testament and its Jewish context”. On 14 December, Elio Passeto, of Jerusalem's Ratisbonne Institute will give a talk on “The New Testament as an Oral Torah”. ‘A diáspora de galegos e xudeus’ On 15 November, a roundtable discussion was held at the Casa de Galicia on "A diáspora de galegos e xudeus" (The Diaspora of Galicians and Jews). The event featured leading figures such as Santiago

Camba, General Secretary of Emigration of the Xunta de Galicia (Regional Government of Galicia), and José Ramón Ónega López, the Representative of Galicia Council in Madrid and Director of the Casa de Galicia, in addition to being the author of the book "Los judíos en el Reino de Galicia" (The Jews in the Kingdom of Galicia). Uri Caine plays jazz in Hebrew On 21 November the jazz pianist Uri Caine performed his composition “Las lamentaciones nocturnas de Jeremías” (The nocturnal lamentations of Jeremiah), a collage of sounds featuring a vocalist singing Biblical texts in Hebrew, at the Auditorio Nacional concert hall. Carmen Linares performed the flamenco parts of the work; the chamber orchestra Suonar Parlante also performed. The classical nights of Shahar Rosenthal The Israeli musician Shahar Rosenthal performed a number of classical violin concerts at the Café Teatro Arenal in November. Shahar was born in Tel Aviv in 1975. He began studying the violin when he was six years old. He grew up in Israel and his main teachers were Yoram Livne and Murvitz Moshe, both members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Conference with Jacobo Israel On 17 November, Jacobo Israel Garzón gave a talk entitled "Don José Benoliel y la jaquetía" (José Benoliel and Haketia) at Davar. This talk was part of the “Liber Judaica 2011” Jewish book fair, dedicated to “Sepharad and the Sephardic Jews” and sponsored by Hebraica Ediciones and Editorial Tirocinio. Julian Rachlin plays violin with the Spanish National Orchestra On 26 and 27 November, Julian Rachlin performed the solo violin for the Spanish

National Orchestra, conducted by Josep Pons. The concert featured works by Debussy and Stravinsky. ‘La Caballería Roja’ at La Casa Encendida “La Caballería Roja. Creación y poder en la Rusia soviética de 1917 a 1945” (The Red Cavalry: Creation and power in Soviet Russia 1917-1945) is a major exhibition and series of activities, including films, concerts, drama and conferences. It will be open to the public until 15 January 2012, and will focus on a number of Jewish artists: the writer Isaac Babel, the film director Sergei Eisenstein, the painter El-Lissitsky, the poet Osip Mandelstam and the painter and set designer Marc Chagall. PONTEVEDRA Homage to Gertrud Kolmar Gertrud Kolmar, one of the bravest and greatest poetic voices of the 20th century, was the focus of the 7th Brumario Poético, the annual programme organised by the CuñaCasasbella Foundation, which took place in November. REUS Judeo-Catalan culture with ARCCI The Asociación de Relaciones Culturales Cataluña-Israel (ARCCI - the Association of Cultural Relations between Catalonia and Israel) organised a Judeo-Catalan programme at the Xavier Amorós Central Library. Andreu Lascorz Arcas explored the sources and meaning of some Jewish ceremonies and festivals in order to explore Jewish life in the Mediaeval period and today. The topics addressed were birth and the Sabbath. UBEDA and BAEZA Jewish melodies at the 15th Festival of Ancient Music Ancient Sephardic songs were heard once again at the 15th Festival of Ancient Music in the cities of Ubeda and Baeza,

which began in November and is continuing until 11 December. The Ensemble Mudéjar will be performing at the Agua Synagogue in Ubeda on 5 December. On 8 December, the Cinco Siglos group will be performing a Mediaeval Triptych dedicated to “Instrumental arts in the Spain of the Three Cultures”. ABROAD FRANCE Exhibition of the archives of Walter Benjamin Paris' Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme is presenting the exhibition "Walter Benjamin Archives" until 5 February. Walter Benjamin was born into an assimilated Jewish family in Berlin in 1892; he is considered to be one of the most important philosophers and critics of the 20th Century. HOLLAND The New York of Saul Leiter in Amsterdam The Jewish History Museum of Amsterdam is presenting the exhibition “New York Reflections”, a retrospective on the US photographer and painter Saul Leiter, until 4 March 2012. Leiter is famous for his colour photographs of urban life in New York, which he produced between 1948 and 1960. He managed to capture moments of tranquil everyday beauty among the hustle and bustle of the city. ITALY The Jews in the Italian Risorgimento To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, the Jewish Museum of Bologna is presenting the exhibition “La partecipazione degli ebrei al Risorgimento in Emilia-Romagna [1815-1870]”. The exhibition will be open until 15 January. It examines the events that led to the birth of the Italian state and the history of relations between Jews and the rest of the country in the 19th century and their role in the birth of the modern Italy.

/ DECEMBER 2011 / 13


// interview

DUDU AOUATE “There is almost nothing like hearing your national anthem when you are on the pitch. It is a fantastic feeling. So many things are going through your head; it gives you goose pimples…” Dudu Aouate (Nazareth, 1977) has played for three Spanish football teams: Racing de Santander, Deportivo de la Coruña and currently RCD Mallorca. The Israeli goalkeeper, who is a fixture in our football League, has granted an exclusive interview to Alef, in which he summarises his football career, his customs in accordance with Judaism, and his role in the Israeli national team for which he has played 61 times, and which he is determined to help classify for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. BY FERNANDO MTEZ-VARA DE REY What do you remember about starting playing football in Nazareth and Haifa? I've got wonderful memories of playing with my childhood friends; I always thought, even from when I was very young, that one day I would become a professional player. My dream became reality in Haifa when I played my first game for the first team at the age of 18.

Given your height and that basketball is more popular in your country, was it difficult for you to choose football?

14 / DECEMBER 2011 /

I have always loved football and, with the exception of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team, football is the most popular sport in the country. How did the possibility of playing in the Spanish league arise? Every sportsperson dreams of improving themselves. I was successful in Israel's first division, and this made me aspire to be a goalkeeper in the best league in the world. And my dream came true through my agent and my friend Yossi Benayoun, who was playing for Racing Santander at the time.

You have been playing in the Spanish league since 2003: for Racing de Santander, Deportivo de La Coruña and RCD Mallorca. What differences are there between everyday life in Israel and Spain? None in particular. Spain and Israel are both very similar in culture, modernity, weather and food. Really, the thing I miss most is my family. How popular is Spanish football in Israel, and how closely do they follow your career? Spanish football is very popular in Israel. All Real Madrid's and Barcelona's games are shown live,

and every week there is a programme summarising La Liga. And they also show all the games I play in live; that has happened with all the teams I have played for. During your career, which defenders have made you feel most safe, and which striker has been most threatening to your goal? To be honest, I have been very lucky in this regard, and I have always been protected by a good defence in all my teams. But if I had to choose, I would keep the defence I have now at RCD Mallorca. To answer the rest of your question, Samuel Eto’o is the most dangerous striker I have played against.

Spain and Israel are both very similar in culture, modernity, weather and food. We have a very small Jewish community in Palma de Mallorca, and a beautiful synagogue which I go to frequently.

such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? Can you follow them in Spain? Of course you can. It is very important for us to communicate the meaning of all the Jewish festivals and customs to our children. Do you practice kashrut? Do you think that it is a healthy diet for a top sports star? Well, we do not eat any pork or shellfish. Israeli food is very light, and often very similar to Spanish food.

You have played for Israel 61 times. What do you feel when you pull on your country's shirt? There is almost nothing like hearing your national anthem when you are on the pitch. It is a fantastic feeling. So many things are going through your head; it gives you goose pimples‌ When will we be able to see Israel in a European Championship or World Cup? Very soon I hope. It is something that the whole country dreams about, and that we all need to be

committed to in order to qualify for Brazil 2014. You are from Nazareth, a city that is home to many cultures. How did this atmosphere affect your personal and professional growth? To be honest, it hasn't affected me either personally or professionally. But I think that there is something beautiful about being able to understand and learn from different cultures in a single country. What would your recipe for peace in the Middle East be?

If I had one, I would leave football and dedicate myself to achieving peace at last. In your experiences around Spain, do you have any contact with the Jewish community? Of course, we have a very small Jewish community in Palma de Mallorca, and a beautiful synagogue which I go to frequently. Where is your family from? My family has Sephardic roots. Do you take part in traditional Jewish festivals

Do you think there is any interest in Spain in Jewish culture and the State of Israel? Of course there is! I have experienced the interest among my friends and in the news on television and the Internet. Are you planning to remain in Spain when your career ends? What are your plans for the future? We are very happy to have got to know this fantastic country. My wife and I are very happy in Spain - and particularly in Mallorca. It is very difficult to decide now what we might do in the future, although we have three children who are more Spanish than Israeli.

/ DECEMBER 2011 / 15


// the quotation

I'm going, I'm going, I'm going, but I am staying here Miguel Hernández. // The profile

MOR KARBASI, DAUGHTER OF SPRING BY ESTHER QUERUB The beautiful features of her face reflect the mixture of her roots. So does her music. Mor Karbasi was born in Jerusalem in 1986 but the Moroccan and Persian origins of her parents are easily recognisable in her singing. Since she was a little girl, Karbasi has been involved with music through her mother, who sang Jewish Andalusian lullabies to her and also “piyutim”, liturgical poems sung in Hebrew and Aramaic from the Sephardic tradition. Mor Karbasi has revived and updated the Sephardic repertoire, adding modern arrangements and accompaniments with bass, guitar and percussion. She has also combined it with rhythms from the East and Portuguese and Spanish musical traditions, particularly flamenco.

Her exceptional voice and unique style have seduced both the critics and the public since she emerged on the music scene in 2008 with “La belleza y el mar”. When this record was released she was compared to famous artists such as Mariza, Estrella Morente and Yasmin Levy and she was described by the UK's The Guardian newspaper as “a young diva of the world music scene”. She sings in Hebrew, Spanish and, particularly, Jewish Spanish. “I think Ladino is the most beautiful, melodic and magical language imaginable: it is so full of vitality. I feel that I am on a mission to transmit the richness and the power of these 500 year old melodies and words.” She is now based in Seville, where she is exploring the

rhythms and cadences of flamenco. After leaving her native Israel, Mor lived for two years in London, where she recorded her second album, “La hija de la primavera” (The Daughter of Spring), with her partner, the guitarist Joe Taylor. Some of the songs with a traditional flavour that she has revived and enriched with new arrangements and instrumentation include “Morenika sos”, “La Kantiga de las madres” and “Asentado en mi ventana”. She has performed in Italy, the UK, Portugal, Poland,

the Czech Republic, France, Sweden, Holland, Morocco and the USA. In September she performed in the city of Sofia, sharing her songs with around fifty Sephardic Jews from more than 20 countries in an emotional concert promoted by Sefarad-Israel and the Spanish Embassy in Bulgaria. In December she will be performing her first concerts in Spain. Through SefaradIsrael, she will be inaugurating our regional office in Jaen, and she will be lighting up the lights of Hanukkah with her singing in Malaga and Madrid.

About us.Sefarad-Israel is a Spanish institution established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Community of Madrid and Madrid City Council. Our objectives: To promote relationships of friendship and cooperation between Spain, Israel and Jewish communities all over the world by carrying out activities in the political, economic, social, scientific and cultural fields.Where to find us? C/ Mayor, 69. Madrid / Tel.: + 34 91 391 10 02. E-mail: -).)34%2)/ $%!35.4/3%84%2)/2%3 9$%#//0%2!#)œ.

The institution: GOBIERNO

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