In the past few updates I've shared special pictures of my ancestors with you. Now I want to share with you a picture and a song that truly symbolize why I am so committed to the work that I do.
First the picture: this is the facade of a synagogue that many of my distant relatives helped build in the 1920's in Salonika, Greece. The Jewish community of Salonika (along with the rest of Greece) was decimated during WWII, and to this day it is struggling to rebuild. I am blessed that my immediate family was safely in America when the war hit. But many of my distant relatives were not as fortunate. While many of the buildings in Salonika were destroyed in the fighting, this one synagogue remarkably was left intact at war's end. The Nazi's used it as a Red Cross shelter, and so it was spared. To me, the fact that this building was left standing (and is still in use today-- albeit much less) says so much about the resilience of Sephardic and Ladino culture worldwide today. Our culture is certainly not as widespread as it was just 70 years ago, but it *is* still standing. And we are holding on fast, and we *continue* to rebuild.
In that spirit, I am asking you-- my fans-- to help me make sure this music gets heard. I have made a commitment to my ancestors to not forgot their stories, and I'm doing so by creating new ones in the language and culture that they fought so hard to keep alive. Today I'm recording one of my favorite songs on the new album. It's another original song called "Chika Morena"-- and it's based on an old Sephardic theme of the wandering gypsy girl. In this song (which includes French and Moroccan influences--and an amazing orchestral score that kicks in half way), I imagined a young Sephardic girl kicked out from her homeland wandering for years and searching for a way back home. In this globalized world today, in the end I believe we are all just searching for that way home and to feel connected with our roots. This song symbolizes that deep-rooted desire, which for me has been exemplified by my exploration of my Ladino heritage. I have learned so much about myself along the way "home," and I hope this song inspires the same for you...