29 June 2007

Syrian Jewry conference

I was sorry to have missed the late May Bar Ilan University conference - Syrian Jewry: History, Identity and Heritage. The event's extensive and interesting topic list was sponsored by the World Center for the Heritage of Aleppo Jewry and the Association of Jews from Damascus in Israel.

Topics included genealogy, architecture, history, literature, music, immigration, religion, women and others. More information is at the Dahan Center, dahan.center@mail.biu.ac.il.

The event included exhibits of inlaid metal implements from Damascus and Damascus-style metalware by Bezalel, a display of Judaic paintings; Syrian music and a film, The Man Who was not Afraid of Peace.

Presenters included Dr. Yaron Harel, Dr. Noam Stillman, Dr. Yom Tov Assis, Dr. Minna Rozen, Dr. Avraham David and others, as well as Sarina Roffe of Brooklyn, who focuses on Syrian genealogy.

Genealogical topics included the Farhi, Antebi, Elmaliah and Safra families, and even the Syrian-Jewish kitchen

History included the Jews of Damascus and Aleppo in the 17th century and more contemporary times, ties between Aleppo and London, the Brooklyn Diaspora, rescue of Syrian Jews, Jews under Assad, Syrian illegal immigration and aliyah, indigenous Arab Jews in 16th century Damascus, and Syrian Jews in Latin America.

Included were women Zionists in Damascus and the role of women in preserving community traditions.

Music covered a Damascus Cantor's notebook, musical tradition of Aleppo, Syrian cantors in Brooklyn.

The conference covered far-ranging subjects by outstanding researchers.

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