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Can a 16th-century religious Hebrew poet remain relevant to contemporary audiences? Rabbi Israel Najara’s poetic legacy proves that this is indeed possible. A Middle Eastern contemporary of William Shakespeare, nicknamed “A Spark of King David” by his followers, Najara’s poems continue to be used for Jewish rituals and festivities in the present day.

Join us to hear from Professor Edwin Seroussiwhy Rabbi Najara’s poetry of hope and redemption has persisted in synagogues, in Jewish homes, and on Israeli pop stages to this very day.

Also register for Edwin Seroussi’s talk on Thursday, March 28, at 7:00 p.m.:
Sonic Ruins of Modernity: Ladino Folksongs Today

About the speaker

Edwin Seroussi smiling, in blazer

Edwin Seroussi is the Emanuel Alexandre Professor Emeritus of Musicology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Chair of the Academic Committee of the Jewish Music Research Centre, Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College and, in 2023/4, Fellow at the Herbert G. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  His research focuses on Jewish musical cultures of the Mediterranean and Middle East and their interactions with Islamic cultures, Judeo-Spanish song and music in Israel. He explores processes of hybridization, diaspora, nationalism and transnationalism in diverse contexts and historical periods such as the Ottoman Empire, colonial Morocco and Algeria, Germany’s Second Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Zionist settlement in Palestine and the Judeo-Spanish-speaking diaspora.

This series is cosponsored by the UW Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, the UW Middle East Center, the UW Near and Middle East Studies Ph.D. Program, ArtsUW, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, and by the Ethnomusicology Program at the University of Washington.

It was made possible with the support of the Hazzan Isaac Azose Fund for Community Engagement, which was created in partnership with the Isaac Alhadeff Foundation and the Benoliel Family Fund, with additional support provided by Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, the Seattle Sephardic Brotherhood and the Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation, as well as Jack I. Azose, Howard Behar, Harley and Lela Franco, Jeff and Jamie Merriman Cohen, Jack Schaloum and Marlene Souriano Vinikoor.

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and accommodation in its services, programs, and activities. To make a request connected to a disability or health condition contact Grace Elizabeth Dy at (206) 543-0138 or by emailing jewishst@uw.edu at least 10 days before the event.