Musicians in the Mediterranean: ‎Narratives of Movement

In June 2016 I was fortunate enough to attend the first joint symposium of the ICTM Study Group ‘Mediterranean Music Studies and the International Musicological ‎Society titled: “Musicians in the Mediterranean: ‎Narratives of Movement”‎ taking place in Naples Italy, thanks to a generous travel grant of the “Da’at Hamakom”: Center for the Study of Cultures of Place in the Modern Jewish World. The conference was a unique chance for me to meet and hear leading and emerging researchers from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Cypress and elsewhere all dealing with different aspects of music-making in the Mediterranean from a mainly ethno-musicological perspective. The paper I presented which was later presented at the third Daat Hamakom Fellows conference, focused on the music of one individual Rabbi Naftali Margolis Abulafia, born in the late 19th century in Safed. Using rare recordings, acquired and resounded with special permission of Abulafia’s family, I showed how his repertoire chronicled Ottoman-era Safed’s shared Arab- Jewish soundscape. His unique repertoire which was documented extensively in New York in the 1950s encompassed the liturgical Ashkenazi prayers and Yiddish folk songs reflecting his belonging to the minority Ashkenazi group in Safed; as well as Arab melodies set to piyyutim [liturgical poems] sung by the Sephardic diaspora there and finally included Arab music which was part of everyday life in what-was then larger Syria. The responses to my lecture were very positive and showed an interest in this Yiddish speaking individual and his musical repertoire in an Arab speaking pre-State Palestine.


A Musical Postcard from Safed: The recordings of Naftali Zvi Margolis Abulafia and the Shared soundscapes for Pre-state Palestine