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no Jewish music in Istanbul? Au contraire!

Alexander Gelfand, a writer that I often admire, has a curious story in this week's Jewish Forward in which he laments the lack of remaining Jewish community in Istanbul. That is true—the Jewish community in Turkey in general, and Istanbul is much diminished. He doesn't mention, but I will, that even the Holocaust had an effect—witness Kurt Waldheim's nasty efforts to help eradicate the Jewish community of Salonica (since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, part of Greece).

But there is so much that is exciting that still remains!

First read the article, "Lost Music of Istanbul's Sephardic Jews", from the Sep 9, 2011 edition, which also contains some excellent pointers to new Sephardic music in US and Israel. Then look at comments by Judith Cohen and myself (and others?). I'll repeat my own comments:

I have several as-yet-unreviewed Jewish recordings made in Istanbul in recent years. Notable among those that I have reviewed are a recording by Hadass Pal Yarden (who also seems to perform locally in Istanbul, and internationally), "Yahudije" or this kid's recording reviewed by Professor Judith Cohen in 2006, "Izzet Bana & Estreyikas d'Estambol / Un Kavretiko".

In short, although the Jewish community in Istanbul is much diminished, it has not vanished and there are some fascinating places still alive and worth exploring.