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Singing Sephardic Traditions 

Musician Lily Henley brings Sephardic traditions to us all.

By Jewish Arts Collaborative

Published Jul 8, 2024

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This Curation is part of Community Creative Fellowship.

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Ladino singer Lily Henley began her Sephardic music journey in earnest with the release of her 2022 album: “Oras Dezaoradas”. She has performed in folk festivals across the US and the world, sharing Ladino language and almost forgotten Jewish traditions with audiences everywhere. 

Her 2024 Community Creative Fellowship was the first opportunity for Lily to dive more deeply into work with the Jewish community. Lily spent her fellowship in residence with Temple Emanual of Newton, where she held sessions with Hebrew school students, and congregants, and also held performances for the congregation. Lily brought her own Sephardic traditions to Temple Emanuel while also learning their Ashkenazi traditions, and found new ways to share and blend her Sephardic heritage.  

During the fellowship, Lily wrote new music in Ladino, English, and Hebrew inspired by her fellowship experience, interaction with community members, their stories, and the atmosphere at Temple Emanuel. 

In this video, Lily prepares a sweet tune by Sephardic icon Flory Jagoda while waiting for the Hebrew school students” 

Here, Lily is thanking Flory Jagoda who wrote this song and who is widely credited with preserving Sephardic Jewish music and language. Read about Flory and her contributions to the world of Sephardic culture upon which Lily builds. 

Cantor Elias Rosemberg from Temple Emanuel of Newton said, “Lily has been a great addition to Temple Emanuel. She’s fabulous. She’s super talented and very different from everything that we do at Emanuel. Many, many seniors wanted to adopt her, like, you know, you’re my grandchild! Thank you so much for exposing us to this. We had no idea about this type of music. We had no idea about the Jewish culture of the Sephardim.” 

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JArts’ mission is to curate, celebrate, and build community around the diverse world of Jewish arts, culture, and creative expression. Our vision is of a more connected, engaged, and tolerant world inspired by Jewish arts and culture.

Reflections

  • 1.

    Through her music and language, Lily seeks to share an important and lesser-known aspect of Jewish culture with audiences everywhere. Are you familiar with any Sephardic traditions? Does Lily’s music inspire you to know more? 

  • 2.

    Have you experienced Ladino before? Do you know of other Jewish languages? 

     

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