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An Evening of the Liturgical Poetry of the Sephardic World
December 4, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmSuggested Donation: $18
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Walks ups will be accepted.
This concert lecture will provide an intimate exploration of beautiful piyutim and music from Spain, North Africa and the Middle East stretching from the 10th to the 20th century.
For over a decade, in concert settings as well as at the prayer services of Manhattan’s B’nai Jeshurun congregation, Rabbi Matalon and guitarist Dan Nadel have been delving passionately and deeply into the heritage of Sephardic Jews, presenting traditional melodies and poetry, while bringing the spirit of innovation and renewal in order to creatively reestablish the connection with modern-day sounds.
Piyut, a form of Jewish liturgical poetry, composed for centuries by Hebrew poets, scholars, philosophers, mystics, reached its peak in medieval Spain. Much of this poetry is incredibly beautiful and evocative, with deep insight about the human condition and spiritual yearning. Most of this poetry was influenced by Arabic poetics of the time, reflecting a symbiotic cultural relationship between Muslims and Jews in the Iberian peninsula. Following the forced migration of Sephardic Jews to North Africa, the middle east, the Balkans, the Caucasus and other areas, this poetry continued to evolve as it was adapted to beloved melodies of the host nations.
Rabbi José Rolando Matalon — Vocals
Dan Nadel — Flamenco Guitar
Rabbi Roly Matalon
José Rolando Matalon, B’nai Jeshurun’s Senior Rabbi, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was educated in Buenos Aires, Montreal, Jerusalem and New York City. After his ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1986, Rabbi Matalon came to BJ to share the pulpit—and vision—of his mentor and friend Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer. They worked together to revitalize the congregation and turn its focus to education, interfaith cooperation, and social justice.
After Rabbi Meyer’s death in 1993, Rabbi Matalon became BJ’s spiritual leader. He and Rabbis Bronstein and Sol now lead a vibrant, diverse community of 1,700 households.
Rabbi Matalon’s involvement in the New York, Jewish, and Israeli communities is broad and deep; he serves on a number of boards, including the Advisory Board of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, the Advisory Board of Beit Tefillah Israeli-Tel Aviv, and the Leadership Council of Habitat for Humanity. He has received awards from the New York Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Peace Fellowship, the New Israel Fund and T’ruah.
Rabbi Matalon is a founding co-director of Piyut North America , a partnership between B’nai Jeshurun and Hazmanah Le-Piyut in Israel. A student of Arabic and Turkish music, he plays the ‘ud (Arabic lute). Rabbi Matalon is married and has two daughters.
Dan Nadel is an Israeli born, New York-based guitarist and composer, whose personal style combines flamenco, jazz, and Middle Eastern influences. He is a bandleader, a solo performing artist, and a collaborator with Tavche Gravche – his multinational neo-Balkan group.
A busy musician on New York’s scene, Nadel has also worked with many world-renowned artists, including jazz musicians Chico Freeman, Dave Liebman and Anat Fort, Israeli-French pop star Yael Naim, jazz vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli, opera soloists Chen Reiss and Audrey Majzlin, and genre-crossing musicians from around the world such as Frank London, Ismail Lumanovski, Souren Baronian and Satoshi Takeishi.
Nadel attended the jazz program at the prestigious “Thelma Yellin” High School of the Arts, before completing his three-year army duty as the guitarist for the IDF’s Air Force Band. He is a graduate of the BFA jazz program at The New School in NYC.
Dan established, curates and musically directs Songs of Sacred Time, an ongoing series of Jewish liturgical music concerts at JCC Manhattan. He is the creative and musical director for IAC’s Shishi Israeli, hosted monthly at B’nai Jeshurun, featuring piyutim and modern-day Israeli music. For the past three years he has been partnering with Rabbi Roly Matalon to lead Bo-i Kallah, a monthly Sefarad-Yerushalayim-inspired Kabbalat Shabbat, and since July 2017 has been the music director of the Center for Prayer and Spirituality at BJ.