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Morocco's Culture of Coexistence to be Celebrated on Opening Night of 21st NY Sephardic Jewish F

On March 5th 2018, the Annual Pomegranate Awards Ceremony will feature a special performance of Sebt Gnawa, the revival of the seldom summoned Moroccan-Jewish spirits, by Grammy-nominated Innov Gnawa with Sephardi Jazz trumpeter Itamar Borochov.

21st NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival

The 21st NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival will commence with an exclusive cultural experience: the summoning of seldom heard Jewish spirits from the Gnawa repertoire.

Gnawa, the traditional, ritual healing music of black communities formed of former soldiers and slaves, who originated in Northern Mali and Mauritanian before being brought to Morocco, has "raw, hypnotic power [that has] fascinated outsiders as diverse as writer/composer Paul Bowles, jazz giant Randy Weston and rock god Jimi Hendrix." Sometimes called "the Moroccan Blues," Gnawa features unique instrumentation "from the lute-like sintir that the Maâlem uses to call the tune, to the metal qarqaba (castinets) with which the kouyos (chorus) keep time and pound out clattering, hypnotic rhythms."

Composed of Moroccan expatriates in America, the Grammy-nominated Innov Gnawa is working with Jaffa-born, Brooklyn-based Bukharian Jazz trumpeter and composer Itamar Borochov to save the Sebt (in Moroccan Darija) or Shabbat spirits from oblivion. "Music is at the heart of the shared Judeo-Muslim Moroccan heritage. To have Itamar, whose played Jazz at Lincoln Center and whose latest album is a Downbeat Editor's Pick, come together with Innov to preserve and revive Sebt Gnawa is a most meaningful tribute to this legacy, and a wonderful way with which to celebrate the Moroccan culture of coexistence at the NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival," says Jason Guberman, Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation.

The evening will feature a reception of traditional kosher Moroccan cuisine and presentation of the Pomegranate Awards, designed by Baghdad-born artist and ASF Board Member Oded Halahmy.

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