Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Humboldt Jewish Music and Culture Festival, Feb. 4-11

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2021 at 8:00 AM

If you’re kicking yourself because you missed Temple Beth El’s Yiddish Music Festival last year, don’t kvetch, it’s back!

The Humboldt Jewish Music and Culture Festival, a celebration of Yiddish and Sephardic culture, music and cuisine, is happening Feb. 4-11 via Zoom. The event was renamed this year in order to include increased diversity of
Jewish music, such as local cellist Kira Weiss' Sephardic musical event on Tuesday, Feb 11.

Due to the pandemic, the festival is being presented as an expanded Zoom event with highlights that include Cabaret Culture in Interwar Poland, a multimedia presentation by Jewish music specialist Dr. Ellie Shapiro, an independent scholar focusing on Polish-Jewish relations. In 2018, Shapiro completed a dissertation on contemporary Jewish culture festivals in Polish small towns. Formerly the director of the Bay Area-based Jewish Music Festival for 18 years, she first visited Poland in 2003 as a guest of the Polish Cultural Institute. From 1982-90, Shapiro was based in Israel where she worked as a teacher and freelance journalist.

About the presentation: Jewish musicians played a significant role in shaping the popular culture of the newly independent Poland after World War I. Familiar with the modern sounds coming out of New York’s Tin Pan Alley and the alleys of Buenos Aires, they created a cabaret scene that brought tango, jazz and so much more to excited audiences. This multimedia presentation offers a window into this unique world that tragically ended in 1939.
click to enlarge Sasha Lurje - PHOTO BY ABHISHIKTA VANGA
  • photo by Abhishikta Vanga
  • Sasha Lurje
The festival also includes Old Time Yiddishkeit: A Heymish (informal) day of Yiddish Folk Culture featuring a concert by Latvian singer Sasha Lurje and American violinist Craig Judelman as well as fun Yiddish workshops with Sasha Lurje and Rabbi Naomi Steinberg.
click to enlarge Craig Judelman - PHOTO BY ABHISHIKTA VANGA
  • photo by Abhishikta Vanga
  • Craig Judelman
And let’s not forget the food! Let’s Invite Bubbe to Dinner is a cooking class with mother-daughter chefs, Lauren and Mariah Sarabia. Lauren is the owner and chef of Comfort of Home Catering, one of the only Jewish owned and influenced by cultural recipes on the Northcoast. On Sunday, Feb. 7, pre-ordered traditional Jewish baked goods and lunch will be offered by the Sarabia chefs. Get the full menu, details and tickets at

The festival culminates with Singing the Diaspora: Sephardic Songs from Turkey to Morocco, with Santa Barbara-based Sephardic music ensemble Flor de Kanela ("Flower of Cinnamon”) including Kira Weiss, Andrea Fishman, Eric Ederer and Fred Nadis.
click to enlarge Flor de Kanela
  • Flor de Kanela
About the presentation: This presentation traces the cultural and musical history of the Sephardic Jews from their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) in the 15th century to the two main diasporas: the urban centers of Ottoman lands (present day Turkey, Greece and the Balkans) and Morocco. The ensemble will perform several love songs from Salonica, Istanbul and Izmir — cities that became the centers of Sephardic life and culture in the 19th and 20th centuries — and a Moroccan traditional Sephardic wedding song, explaining the cultural and musical contexts.

Prices for The Humboldt Jewish Music and Culture Festival events are $15-$30, or $60 for the all-event pass. Detailed info and tickets available at
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Kali Cozyris

Kali Cozyris is the calendar editor of the North Coast Journal.

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