Move over, “I have a Little Dreidel”–there’s an exciting new sound in the air this Hanukkah. The Ninth Annual Sephardic Music Festival will be lighting up Hanukkah in venues around New York on December 1-5.

Founded by American-Israeli producer Diwon, the Sephardic Music Festival (SMF) is the first Jewish music festival to focus exclusively on Sephardic music and culture and showcase the latest Mizrahi, Yemenite, and Ladino artists from around the world. The festival offers a platform for performers of traditional Sephardic folk music and innovators who fuse traditional Sephardic rhythms, melodies, and motifs with modern musical styles. With an incredible range of artists this year, the Sephardic Music Festival presents a colorful tapestry of music and culture as rich, vibrant, and diverse as the Jewish world itself.

The festival kicks off on December 1 with Sephartango performing Sephardic songs set to tango and fused with classics to create an unforgettable musical experience at the Center for Jewish History.

December 2 brings the unforgettable Sephardic Story Slam back to Lolita Bar with ten stories, six minutes and ONE champion. On December 3, Elad Kabilo of Music Talks performs his brand of instrumental Balkan music along with a very special guest opener at the breathtaking Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue.

December 4 will feature the CD Release Party of The Church of Betty Globestra as well as a powerful performance by Tzadik Record darlings, Rashanim live at the Knitting Factory.

The festival closes with ISRAMERICA, back for the BIGGEST and BRIGHTEST Hanukkah event of the YEAR! Get ready to get rowdy with us at Libation for the epic closing of party for SMF 2013.



December 1 (5 pm at the Center for Jewish History):Sephartango kicks off the festival with Sephardic songs set to tango and fused with classics. Enjoy Polly Ferman’s expressive and sensitive piano-playing and Gerard Edery’s instrumental virtuosity and rich baritone. Curator and ethnomusicologist Samuel R. Thomas will be in conversation with the artists as part of the Sephardic Music Festival-Scholar Series.

  • Presented in collaboration with the American Sephardi Federation and Yeshiva University Museum.

December 2 (7pm, Lolita Bar): The Sephardic Story Slam is back! Join us as storytellers, actors, poets, writers, comedians and other doe-eyed hopefuls from far and wide try their hand to take home the most coveted prize of all time: the legacy of being crowned: “Story Slam Champion.” Come hear riveting stories of Arabian Nights, where the caravan camels roam. When the wind’s from the east and the sun’s from the west and the sand in the glass is right, come on down, stop on by, hop a carpet and fly, to another Arabian night.

You will hear mesmerizing stories of Middle Eastern upbringing, exotic travels, and family traditions from Morocco, Persia, Tunisia, and Yemen, and so much more!

  • 10 Stories – 6 Minutes – 1 Champion. YOU CHOOSE THE WINNER!

December 3 (7pm at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue) Elad Kabilo of Music Talks performs mesmerizing instrumental Balkan music along with a very special guest opener. This is the festival’s ninth collaboration with the breathtaking Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue.

December 4 (7pm at Knitting Factory): Rashanim join The Church of Betty Globestra as The Church celebrates its CD Release Party with the festival.

Rashanim combine the power of rock with deep Middle Eastern grooves, mystical Jewish melodies, and the spontaneity of improvisation. Led by Jon Madof (Zion80, Matisyahu) on guitar, the band includes Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (Yemen Blues) on bass and Mathias Künzli (Regina Spektor) on drums and percussion. They’ll be joined by a very special guest on keyboards. Rashanim has released four CDs on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records.

The Church of Betty Globestra: The Lazarus Rose presents modern world arrangements of centuries-old Sephardic songs performed by a multinational chamber ensemble led by Chris Rael and featuring Balkan vocal sorceress Vlada Tomova and musicians from Bulgaria, India, Spain, Albania, and the US.

December 5 (8pm at Libation): ISRAMERICA and SMF are back with the BIGGEST and BRIGHTEST Hanukkah event of the YEAR! The 2nd Annual Hanukkah BASH at Libation with over 600 exclusive guests comprised of young Jewish professionals and Israeli artists in all genres and mediums are expected! The night will include; Hanukkah Premium Sweets & Chocolates, Desert Bar with Sufganiyot, Pitopia Falafel, Sushi, plus Gifts and Giveaways all night! This is an Exclusive Hanukkah Celebration!

NOTE: For festival go’ers who will be in Los Angeles for the holidays, SMF will be producing their teaser event in L.A. dubbed, Balagan Salon. The event is tantalizing preview of the full festival, which will take place in and around Los Angeles in early March. The Salon, which takes place on the 7th night of Chanukah, will feature art, sculpture, storytelling, projections and Andalusian belly dancing, plus a chance to make the art personal through tribal marker tattoos. The party will be fueled by world rhythms spun by renowned DJ’s, as well as an open wine bar sponsored by Le Soreqand complimentary gourmet latkes by Nina Safar (aka Kosher in the Kitch, a regular on Perez Hilton’s Celebrity blogger). Additional info on this event could be found at



“eclectic lineup of traditional and contemporary artists, including many dedicated to fusing disparate sounds or bridging new and old.” – The NY Times

“This … fest wants to school us in Jewish music—and not just your grandpa’s klez.” – Time Out NY

“Thanks to events like the Sephardic Music Festival, the sounds of Sephardic Jewry are at last beginning to get their due.” – The Forward

“For most New Yorkers, “Jewish music” means klezmer: plaintive fiddles, wailing clarinets and other vestiges of a largely vanished Eastern European culture. But at the Sephardic Music Festival, a New York City tradition…, the world of Jewish music gets explored from an entirely different angle, focusing on the aural legacy of Jewish communities from Spain and the Muslim world.” – The Jerusalem Post

“…look at this festival as the un-Ashkenazi festival.” – National Public Radio, WNYC

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