Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor, Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, is organizing “Passover Around the World: A Multimedia Concert” on Sunday, March 15, 2020 at Pico Union Project in Los Angeles, CA. The concert is presented by HUC-JIR’s Jewish Language Project, USC Casden Institute, and Pico Union Project; and co-sponsored by the Association for Jewish Studies, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Mickey Katz Endowed Chair in Jewish Music, Yiddishkayt LA, Got Kosher, Be’chol Lashon, ucLADINO, Sephardic Education Center, 30 Years After, and JIMENA.
During the concert, guests will hear Passover songs – from Chad Gadya to Who Knows One – in multiple languages, arranged in traditional and contemporary styles and performed by renowned musicians Jewlia Eisenberg and Jeremiah Lockwood (singing in Yiddish), Asher Shasho Levy (Judeo-Arabic), and Chloe Pourmorady (Judeo-Persian, Ladino, etc.). The event will include food samples from global Passover traditions, a multimedia introduction to endangered Jewish languages – from Jewish Neo-Aramaic to Judeo-Tat – by Dr. Benor, a Haggadah supplement with songs, images, and recipes, and a raffle featuring books about Jewish languages and Passover.
Dr. Benor has been creating public-facing resources about Jewish languages since she started the Jewish language website two decades ago. The website offers descriptions of 21 languages spoken and written by Jews around the world, past and present. It presents videos, texts, and sound clips, as well as maps, bibliographies, and answers to FAQs. Visitors can also find lists of researchers and translators of many Jewish languages. Dr. Benor’s other projects include the Jewish English Lexicon, a Wiki-style database of Hebrew, Yiddish, and other words used by Jews within English, and similar sites for Jewish Latin American Spanish, French, Swedish, and Russian. She recently consolidated these projects into the “HUC-JIR Jewish Language Project,” for which this concert serves as the official launch. In the future, the Jewish Language Project will offer curricular resources for Jewish educational institutions and additional online materials.
Dr. Benor says, “Most Jews have heard of Yiddish and Ladino but know very little about the rich, diverse history of the Jewish Diaspora. I hope this concert and the resources I’m making available online will help address this gap.” She also emphasized that the task of documenting Jewish languages is urgent: “Most of the longstanding Jewish languages are endangered and will have few or no native speakers within a few decades.” Concert proceeds will benefit the Endangered Language Alliance’s work to document Jewish languages among immigrants in New York from Iran, Turkey, and elsewhere.
Click here to purchase tickets to the concert. If you cannot attend in person on March 15, you may purchase a ticket for access to the full event video.