What a great year we’ve had at Sephardic Heritage International DC (SHIN DC), mashala - we are thankful to have accomplished so much, as we worked together tirelessly
to fulfill SHIN’s mission. We thank you for your continued support and take a moment to share just some of our 2017 highlights with you.
SHIN co-presented three Sephardic/WWII and Ethiopian-themed films at Washington Jewish Film Festival 27, including Cloudy Sunday with the Embassy of Greece. SHIN's director was Q&A moderator for film Bal Ej: the Hidden Jews of Ethiopia with director Irene Orleansky.
SHIN also partied with DJ Fes until we could not tell the difference between Purim and Nowruz (Persian New Year)—raising awareness of refugees in the Persian diaspora and building bridges based on the Purim narrative—a celebration of rescue from oppression and genocide.
SHIN continued our Mimouna Mimosa brunch tradition in partnership with the Embassy of Morocco in Washington, DC. We celebrated this festival of good neighbors with traditional foods and live Gnawa music from the Jouwala Collective.
SHIN presented Sephardic heritage at the inaugural Syria Fest in DC, including the organization’s director giving a lecture on the history and culture of Syrian Jews. We shared Syrian Jewish customs, history, food and music at SHIN’s cultural booth, and made available to you, personally inscribed copies of Aromas of Aleppo: the Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews by Poopa Dweck.
SHIN raised awareness of Sephardic heritage at the annual Turkish Festival, including working with the festival committee and ATA-DC to present a beautiful performance of Ladino music by Dr. Judith Cohen and Greek master oudist Spyros Pilios Koliavasalis. We also shared the history and cuisine of Turkey’s Jews in SHIN’s cultural tent, including a lecture by food writer and chef Susan Barocas, and made available to you personally inscribed copies of Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes by Stella Cohen. Our community outreach coordinator also danced traditional dances with the Silk Road Dance Company.
SHIN DC also organized a lecture by Dr. Devin Naar The Destruction of the ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans’: Greek Jews and the Holocaust in partnership with the Embassy of Greece in DC, co-sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue & Museum and the Association of Friends of Greek Jewry. We received a special message from Thessaloniki’s Mayor Yiannis Boutaris. A full house audience, including members of Congress, the diplomatic community and members of the Sephardic Brotherhood of America enjoyed the presentation and an exhibition Salonika: The Jerusalem of the Balkans co-curated by SHIN’s Community Outreach Coordinator and Director from the private collection of Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins.
SHIN DC, sponsors and partners came together on the last night of Hanukkah for the Extra Flame Concert. This annual SHIN program raises awareness of the Syrian and other refugee crises, drawing inspiration from a Syrian Jewish narrative that Sephardic refugees began lighting an extra flame each night of Hanukkah to commemorate the security and tolerance they found in Aleppo, following expulsion from Spain in 1492. Refugees shared their narratives and we enjoyed a rare and riveting performance of Syrian Jewish music by Asher Shasho Levy. Earlier in the year, SHIN DC worked with Moishe House DC on Syrian Sweets Soiree, which raised over $5000 to help Syrian refugees.
SHIN also reunited with the band A-WA, which has gained popularity for its modern, yet traditional songs based on Yemenite Jewish folk music, and sung in the Yemenite Jewish variety of Arabic. We published our interviews of the trio in REORIENT, a magazine celebrating contemporary Middle Eastern arts and culture. We also celebrated Central Asian arts and culture with the embassies of Azerbaijan and Georgia. SHIN also presented delicious Sephardic Hanukkah foods and demonstrated how to cook them. We also engaged Damascus' last Chief Rabbi - Hakham Hamra. We also organized a Yemeni Melaveh Malkah with speaker David Nagarpowers, Yemeni food, and music to welcome a new week. SHIN also presented story time, taught Iraqi Judeo-Arabic and danced the debke to Iraqi Jewish music for Iraqi Jewish Heritage Day in connection with the Iraqi Jewish Archives Exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Our community outreach coordinator also performed and taught traditional dances with the Silk Road Dance Company.