Take a Sephardic Intercultural Musical Journey


As a boy growing up in Be’er Sheva, Israel, Shmuel Elbaz discovered his love for the mandolin.

The nimble, ringing sound of the mandolin makes up the backbone of the Andalusian music of Shmuel’s childhood — music carried from North Africa and the Middle East to Israel — connecting Elbaz’s Sephardic family to their heritage.

But even as a boy, Elbaz had bigger-than-average dreams for the instrument, and when he graduated from Jerusalem Academy of Music, he did so as the first person ever to specialize in the mandolin. Since then, he has won awards for his solo work, led the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra to the Israel Prize and gained international fame.

This March 15-18, you can hear Elbaz in Greater Philadelphia in a four-concert series as part of a trio of musicians who have all been members of the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra. Together, they capture the lushness of Andalusian music, adding a classical touch, and rounded out with sung Arabic, Moroccan, French, Spanish, Algerian and Israeli poetry.

All three Israeli performers arrive as ambassadors of our Partnership2Gether communities of Netivot and Sdot Negev, with whom our Jewish Federation has shared a special connection for more than 20 years. And through an extraordinary partnership, they will be joined in performance by members of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Jewish Federation is proud to partner with ARTolerance — a local nonprofit founded by orchestra cellist Udi Bar-David — to bring together so many talented musicians for what will be an unforgettable musical experience.

For more information on concert times, dates and locations, visit Jewishphilly.org/IsraelinPhiladelphia.

Jewish Philly Podcast Episode 12: Shelby and Amy Zitelman

This month, we’re breaking down the age-old stereotype of Jewish anxiety, followed by a conversation about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe with Israeli reporter Eldad Beck. Finally, we’re honoring Jewish Disability and Awareness Month by paying tribute to three amazing Jews with physical handicaps who have made incredible achievements in their communities.

We also had the honor to sit down with Shelby and Amy Zitelman, two of the three sisters behind the company Soom Foods. We talk about how they turned their passion into a business, the partnerships they’ve built with Philadelphia chefs and restaurants and a million uses for tahini.

All products are available at soomfoods.com or on Amazon. Check them out on Instagram @soomfoods.


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