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Sephardic Singer Flory Jagoda Keeps the Music of Her Prewar Bosnian Childhood Alive

The composer of the beloved Hanukkah song ‘Ocho Kandelikas’ shares stories and melodies from her past

November 25, 2013
Flory Jagoda(Courtesy of Altaras Recordings)
Flory Jagoda(Courtesy of Altaras Recordings)

The Hanukkah song “Ocho Kandelikas” (Eight Little Candles) is often referred to as a “traditional Sephardic song.” In fact, it was written in 1983 by Flory Jagoda, an 88-year-old Sephardic folk singer who still performs today.

“Ocho Kandelikas” is one of dozens of songs Jagoda has written and recorded, drawing from a rich musical tradition and sung in Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, the language she grew up with as a child in Bosnia. She carried that language and musical tradition with her to the United States, after WWII destroyed most of her family and the way of life she’d known.

Here, Jagoda offers her memories of making music with her mother, grandmother, aunts, and uncles as a child, and of her journey to becoming a standard bearer of Sephardic folk music, recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts. The piece is from our archive; she shared her story with Vox Tablet’s Julie Subrin back in 2007.

Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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