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How Did Persian Liturgy Become Sephardic? Imagining Jewish Persian Music.

30May7:00 pm9:00 pmHow Did Persian Liturgy Become Sephardic? Imagining Jewish Persian Music.7:00 pm - 9:00 pm(GMT-04:00) Kehilà Kedosha Janina, 280 Broome St, New York, NY 10002Italian Jewish Studies SeminarItalian Jewish Studies Seminar

Event Details

Persian Jews are both the oldest living Jewish diaspora, and the largest Middle Eastern Jewish community outside of Israel. Over the course of centuries however, like most communities in Africa and Asia, their original customs were assimilated into the Sephardic Liturgy.

Alan Niku will explore the musical traditions of the Jews of Iran (and the surrounding countries), examining their music and liturgy, past and present, and traveling through the historical, cultural and aural geography that connects it to Byzantine and Italian cultures.

This presentation is part of Centro Primo Levi’s work on the Italian Chazanut and the Thesaurus of Italian Jewish Music created by the Centro Internazionale Leo Levi. Besides its collection of cantorial recordings, scores and documents from past centuries, the Thesaurus will also include new recordings from the traditions of Jew who arrived in Italy after World War II and brought with them their melodies, liturgy, and cantillation. The two most prominent communities are from Iran and Libya.

About the speaker
Alan Niku is a filmmaker, writer, and scholar of Mizrahi culture from San Luis Obispo, California, based in Los Angeles. A native speaker of Persian, he spends his time learning related Jewish languages, deciphering Judeo-Persian manuscripts, and interviewing community members about their stories. He is also a musician and an amateur chef, teaches history and Jewish heritage at various levels, and seeks to educate the world about the underrepresented cultures of the Middle East through his writing and films.

From Alan Niku, Persian Liturgy and the Beauty of Forgotten Differences,

“Jews in the Persian Empire wrote the Talmud, diverse sects broke off, reformed and mixed philosophies with other cultures and religions; travelers brought Persian Jewish customs to Central Asia, South Asia, and China, as documented as early as the eighth century in Judeo-Persian manuscripts of the Kaifeng Jews, and the Afghan Geniza. Independent Jewish enclaves rose and fell in Kurdistan, Babylonia, Yemen, Ethiopia, and the Caucasus Mountains before European Jewish immigration to the Middle-East. And over a thousand years ago, rabbis in Babylonia compiled the first siddurim, whose individual nuances took shape in each community until the printing press standardized the major liturgies we commonly see today.”

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