Cantor Jeff Warschauer
TJC Newsletter Article for March 2021
“Purim, Purim, Purim lano, Pesah, Pesah ala mano…”
(Purim is over, Passover is at hand…)
Words and music by Flory Jagoda z”l
The world of Jewish music and culture recently lost one of its giants, the incomparable Sephardic songwriter, singer, guitarist, storyteller and cultural icon Flory Jagoda, who passed away on January 29 of this year at the age of 97.
As her obituary in the Washington Post notes, “...Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1923 Flory Papo Kabilio Jagoda is known as The Keeper of The Flame for her commitment to continuing the rich musical heritage and Sephardic traditions in memory of her adored Altaras Family who were killed in Vlasenica, Bosnia during WWII. Flory, a remarkable singer, creative songwriter, mesmerizing performer and totally engaging storyteller was honored by countless organizations…”
In 2002, she was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship, the country’s highest honor in the traditional arts.
Writing in her native Judeo-Spanish (often called Ladino,) Flory Jagoda wrote countless original songs that celebrated the lives and traditions of her Sephardic family, in particular, her dear grandmother, whom she called nona. Her beloved “Ocho Kandelikas,” is the best known of her original compositions, and is so popular that it is often thought to be of traditional origin.
In addition to her original compositions, Flory Jagoda possessed a vast repertoire of traditional Judeo-Spanish songs that she generously shared with her children, many students and protégées, and a wide and varied audience.
Her recordings and books are a treasure chest of information about Balkan Sephardic songs, music, folklore, life and language.
As a young guitarist and mandolinist at the New England Conservatory in Boston, newly interested in Sephardic music, I went to a concert in Cambridge at MIT. Seeing Flory in concert was a “don’t miss” event! She was performing with her family band, and I was enthralled by every song, by her gorgeous singing and her skillful guitar playing. She made each song special, and her elegant and gracious performing style made the evening an absolute treat.
I, of course, immediately bought all her recordings, and devoured each one.
Years later, I had the great honor of meeting Flory in person when she appeared at KlezKanada (a Yiddish/Jewish music and culture festival that takes place north of Montreal each summer). She was just as sweet and gracious one-on-one as she was onstage, and I will always treasure that meeting.
Here are links to several of Flory Jagoda’s songs, as well as her obituary in the Washington Post. I’ve also included a link to a special post about Flory Jagoda on the Library of Congress blog, Folklife Today, created in honor of Jewish Women’s History Month.
Please remember that this bulletin article will be posted on the TJC website under “Cantor Jeff’s Resources,” where you can easily access the various links.
Ocho Kandelikas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fHPK6CEN1k
Pesah Ala Mano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh3JU9NpI_0
Adio Kerida: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWerHpfmJVs
Adio, Flory. May your memory be for a blessing.
The Return of Enrico Fink!
Wednesday evening, March 24, at 7pm
Take a break from your Passover preparations and join us for Pesach Songs from the Italian Traditions, with special guest Enrico Fink, Zooming in from Florence, Italy.
As many will remember, Enrico Fink’s Residency at TJC in 2019 was a smash hit! Enrico is a musician and scholar who has carried out his musical and research interests together with his ongoing rabbinical studies at the Collegio Rabbinico in Rome.
He is the President of the Jewish Community of Florence, and is often involved in chazanut in his home synagogue and around
the world. Enrico has recently completed a term as Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, working on piyutim
in Italian liturgies in the Early Modern Period. Join us for this not-to-be-missed event!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (347) 623-4228.
Cantor Jeff Warschauer