An Israeli singer in Amsterdam Creates the World’s First Ladino Pop Album

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Wandering the ornate streets of the city of Fes in northern Morocco, Noam Vazana heard several men singing a tune so familiar that it made her stop in her tracks.

Vazana, a successful 35-year-old Israeli musician living here, was visiting her ancestors’ country of birth for a performance at the Tanjazz festival in Tangier when she heard the tune. She began following the men through alleyways to a square where hundreds of locals were singing that same Arabic-language song at a street party.

She could neither recognize nor understand the lyrics, but the melody was woven into some of her earliest childhood memories: It featured in a song that Vazana’s late grandmother used to sing to her regularly in Israel in Ladino, the dying Jewish-Sephardic language.

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