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Tag : music

April 2, 2019 by

The Persian Singer

Growing up in the 1970s in Queens, New York, as the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Iran, I was unable to articulate how I felt different from the other kids in my public elementary school: I could tell my teacher, Mrs. Rice, loved me, but I had never been called “bubbeleh” before. There were plenty of Jewish kids, but none whose families, like mine, ate rice during Passover. 

One afternoon, in 1979, after the Iranian Revolution, I felt the sting of my differentness when a boy turned to me and hissed, “You, Iranian!”

The upheaval of that revolution scattered tens of thousands of Iranian Jews away from their country, most to the United States or Israel.

While I felt out of place in Queens, across the globe, in Israel, Maureen Neheder was feeling different from those around her too. Just two years old when the coup hit Iran, her family had moved from Iran to Israel, where her father soon abandoned her mother with two small children… While Maureen was piecing together her identity and musical heritage, I was growing aspects of my American, Persian, Jewish, and feminist identities in spurts: I achieved oral fluency in Farsi but cannot read and write the language; I learned to read and chant Hebrew tefillot and leyn Torah, but do not speak Hebrew; I learned Persian cuisine, dance, music, poetry, and cinema; I graduated from a women’s college and earned a law degree. And then Maureen Nehedar came into my life. 

She traveled from Israel recently to perform at my synagogue. She is a critical success in Israel, known for her voice, compositions, arrangements and scholarship, with her albums “Gandom” and “Asleep in the Bosom of Childhood” glowingly reviewed. Nehedar performed for hundreds of men, women and children at a concert, then again for a large group of elderly Persian Jewish immigrants, and again at a talk she gave in my home. During each performance, audiences were transfixed. Many attendees wept silently as they joined her in singing once-familiar songs, their memories of Iran flooding back.

Perhaps it is not a surprise that her music evokes visceral emotions in those displaced by the Iranian Revolution. For me, having never even been to Iran, her performance was less about memories than about current possibilities: Maureen Nehedar affirms that the melding of the Persian, Jewish, American and feminist identities I have aspired to is possible—and beautiful.

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September 27, 2018 by

Sara Levy’s Salon •

Sara Levy, née Itzig (1761–1854) was a salonnière, skilled performing musician, and active participant in enlightened Prussian Jewish society. She played a powerful role in shaping the dynamic cultural world of late 18th- and early 19th-century Berlin. A patron and collector of music, she was a catalyst for the “Bach revival” of the early 19th century, which was led by her great-nephew Felix Mendelssohn. Sara Levy’s World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin, a new book edited by Rebecca Cypess and Nancy Sinkoff, represents the first scholarly exploration of the cultural, political, and aesthetic contexts that shaped Levy’s world. The book comes with a CD of music, “In Sara Levy’s Salon.”

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The Lilith Blog

June 10, 2014 by

Golem on the rise, female in the lead

Punk-klezmer fusion band Golem has been shocking and delighting audiences for 14 years. But with their latest album, ‘Tanz,’ they’ve hit it big. The album, released by Mexican label Discos Corazon, has been featured on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ and — as of last night — FX’s hit show ‘Louie.’ Lilith’s Talia Lavin sat down with Golem bandleader Annette Ezekiel Kogan to talk about the unique challenges a female rocker faces, and the heartfelt emotion behind Golem’s wild sound.

Golem with comedian Louis C.K. on the set of "Louie." (Facebook)

Golem with comedian Louis C.K. on the set of “Louie.” (Facebook)


 For Annette Ezekiel Kogan, founder, vocalist and accordionist for the punk klezmer band Golem, being the female bandleader of an all-male band is a complicated balancing act.  “I feel like I go in between worlds – I’m the sexy singer, and then I’m conducting, running the show. I’m the band mother to all the guys.”

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