Jewish dancer in North Carolina and Israeli singer in Morocco Revive Hanukkah Tradition
By: Jackie Barzvi
When it comes to celebrating Hanukkah, you probably think about lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and eating fried foods all week. Did you know that there’s a special Hanukkah tradition – Eid Al Bnat (The Festival of Daughters, in Judeo-Arabic) or Chag HaBanot (in Hebrew) – that women and girls from North Africa’s Jewish communities have been celebrating for centuries? Chag Habanot is celebrated on Rosh Chodesh Tevet. The festival honors the story of the Jewish heroine Judith and the important role of women in Jewish life. It is customary to sing, dance, and light the night’s menorah candle in honor of women and focus on bringing together generations of mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters and the extended community.
Jackie Barzvi, a professional dancer based in Pittsboro, NC recently published the Mizrachi Dance Archive, an online source for information on Jewish folkloric dances from MENA regions. Through her research she found the Isreali singer Lala Tamar who fuses her Moroccan roots with modern styles of music and frequently sings in the Judaeo-Spanish language of Haketia. These two Jewish artists with Mizrachi backgrounds from opposite sides of the world (Lala Tamar is currently in Morocco) are teaming up with the San Francisco-based organization, JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. On Thursday, December 17th they will be hosting an online celebration of Chag Habanot featuring a special concert from Morocco by Lala Tamar of Moroccan Hanukkah songs accompanied by local female musicians. Jackie will lead participants in a celebratory dance to Moroccan Jewish music and everyone will light the menorah candle together in honor of the holiday.
The timing of this event has also turned out to be very significant. Just this week, Morocco and Israel announced a US-brokered normalization. Morocco became the fourth Arab country to normalize ties with Israel in four months, following the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. This upcoming event will not only celebrate Hanukkah, women, and North African Jewry, but also a new hope for peace in the region.
Caption for featured photo: Jackie Barzvi
RSVP for the Chag Habanot Event
To RSVP for the Chag Habanot Event click here
Jackie Barzvi and Mizrachi Dance Archive
Jackie is a professional Raqs Sharqi (belly dance) instructor and performer based in North Carolina who recently created the Mizrahi Dance Archive. The Mizrachi Dance Archive creates one virtual space where information on dances from Jewish communities around the Middle East and North Africa can live on for future generations. Their mission is to help preserve, celebrate and bring a new light to the stories, cultures, and history of Mizrachi Jews. To learn more about the Mizrahi Dance Archive – click here
JIMENA San Francisco-Based Organization
Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) is dedicated to their mission of achieving universal recognition for the heritage and history of the 850,000 indigenous Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Their programs aim to ensure that the accurate history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews is incorporated into mainstream Jewish and Middle Eastern narratives. More on JIMENA – click here
Lala Tamar – World-Renowned Israeli Singer
Lala Tamar, a world-renowned Israeli singer, will be streaming the CHAG HABANOT concert from Morocco accompanied by local female musicians, Hind Ennaira. Lala is known for her bold and feminine style where she incorporates her Moroccan roots and the ancient Judeo-Spanish language of Haketia.
Below: Watch the Bellida official video of LALA Tamar