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2013-09-06 digital edition

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September 6, 2013  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Beth Shalom scholar-in residence to explore Jewish rhythms from Baghdad to India

Rahel Musleah Rahel Musleah Rahel Musleah, an award-winning journalist, singer, speaker and educator, will be the Rabbi Kenneth Bromberg Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater next month.

She will take congregants and guests on a personal, historic and musical journey to Jewish India on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4-5. Born in Calcutta, the seventh generation of a family that traces its roots to 17th century Baghdad, she will share the lyrical songs and distinctive customs of her community, complemented by personal anecdotes, memorabilia and photographs.

Musleah contributes regularly to Hadassah Magazine, Jewish Woman and numerous other publications. She is the author of several books, including Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah and Why On This Night? A Haggadah For Family Celebration. Her CD, Jewish Rhythms from Baghdad to India, was named one of the 10 best CDs of 2004 by the New York Jewish Week. She currently resides in Port Washington, NY.

She will lead Shabbat services on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and in her program, “Jewish Calcutta Through Music and Memory,” she will introduce the history, music and daily life of the Indian Jewish communities and chronicle her own journey from India to America. Her program gives a view of heritage and culture little known to most and offers a legacy of memory for the Indian Jewish communities whose population has dwindled to 5,000 today.

There will be a Shabbat dinner after services at a cost of $10 per person. Reservations are requested by Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Beth Shalom office or call (727) 531-1418 to make arrangements to come. Childcare during an after-dinner presentation is available.

On Saturday, Oct. 5 at 9 a.m., Musleah will lead and teach the Torah service according the tradition and musical heritage of the Baghdadi-Indian community. The Shabbat service will feature a medley of ancient texts and melodies, unusual tropes for Torah and Haftarah and fascinating rituals, customs and liturgy. Kiddush lunch will follow the service. She will again offer another program after lunch and childcare is available.

This weekend of learning and activities will prepare the congregation for its next Adult Education event two weeks later, on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the home of a congregant. The event is titled “My Home is in the East, My Homeland in the West: An Indian Jewish Dilemma.” Participants will dress in period costumes and the meeting will focus on the Baghdadi, Bene Israel and Cochin Jews as they meet at the oldest synagogue in Bombay, Sha’ar Ha Rahamin, around 1955 to discuss the process of Indian Jews making aliyah. Musleah will not be at this event, but it will reflect her teachings from earlier in the month.

Authentic Indian food and music from all of the diverse communities will be provided for all who attend. Cost will be $25. For directions to the home and reservations, call the synagogue office at (727) 531-1418.

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