The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


Sephardic Folklore – the Spanish Romancero

Dr. Samuel Armistead, who passed away this year, considered his scholarly work on the Spanish Romancero to be his crowning achievement.  The Romancero is a tradition of stories and ballads handed down in Sephardic folklore.  Dr. Armistead’s website Folk Literature of the Sephardic Jews provides a wealth of information on the oral literature of Sephardic Jews dating back to medieval times.

Origins of the Sephardic Ballad Tradition

Judeo-Spanish romansas (Spanish romances) are narrative ballads characteristically embodying 16-syllable, usually monorhymed verses, divided into two octosyllabic hemistichs, with assonant rhyme in each second hemistich.[13] The eight-syllable assonant ballad verse ultimately derives from the anisosyllabic assonant verse of the medieval Spanish epic, and a certain number of Judeo-Spanish ballads, together with some ballads from other Hispanic regions, can be shown to be genetically derived, through direct oral tradition, from medieval Spanish heroic poetry.[14] The earliest evidence we have for the existence of ballads among the Hispano-Jewish exiles does not consist of full texts, but involves an extensive corpus of incipits (or, in some cases, of crucial internal verses), used as tune markers in 16th- and 17th-century Hebrew hymnals (piyûtîm collections): A typical heading might read: “Pizmôn leḥan Arbolera tan gentil” (A hymn to the tune ofArbolera etc.), thus giving us the earliest Judeo-Spanish documentation for The Husband’s Return (in  assonance). In Morocco we have no full texts until the late 19th century, but 18th-century hymnals give us similar, though more limited data from an earlier time (Armistead and Silverman 1973; 1981). The earliest extensive text from the East comes to us in the form of a fragmentary Dutch translation of a ballad, sung as a mystical allegory, in Izmir (Turkey), in 1665, by the false Messiah, Shabbatai Zevi (Scholem 1975: 396-401; FLSJ, V, Chap. 14). By the early 18th century, we have a substantial corpus of handwritten ballads from the Sarajevo community and, towards the end of the century, also from the Island of Rhodes (Armistead, Silverman, and Hassán 1978b). Three early Hispano-Portuguese ballads were copied—nostalgically—by Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam in 1683 (Armistead and Silverman 1980a; 1980b). Continue reading

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Shift Change Trailer

Shift Change is a new documentary (to have its world premiere on October 18, 2012, in Oakland, CA) that highlights worker-owned enterprises in North America and in Mondragon, Spain.  The film couldn’t be more timely, as 2012 has been declared by the U.N. as the “International Year of the Cooperative.”

Take a look at the preview and please share your comments!


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Cooperatives Cont’d. – The Emilia Romagna Cooperatives in Italy

If you are interested in an alternative econonic model to the traditional corporate capitalism practiced in the US, you’ll find this presentation informative and uplifting.  It highlights the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy which is one of the richest in Europe. Emilia-Romagna is also one of the most cooperative regions in the world. Nearly two out of every three of its 4.5 million citizens are members of a cooperative. Cooperatives support around 30% of the region’s GDP, making it a stellar example of a large-scale cooperative economy. The cooperative economy is strongly bolstered by networked relationships which also make cooperatives more resilient in economic crises.

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Radical New Model of Earth’s Core

Earth core

Simon Redfern tackles new ideas about the earth’s core puzzle in BBC News:

Seismic data indicate that the western and eastern hemispheres of Earth’s inner core differ, and this has led some to suggest that the core was once subjected t an impulse – presumably from the collision of a space rock or planetoid which shook the whole Earth.  The core, it is suggested, is constantly moving sideways.  As it does, the front side is melting and the rear side crystallising, but the core is held centrally by gravity.
With all these seismic complexities, the link between the crystal structure and the geophysical observations has yet to be resolved.
In Scientific Reports, Maurizio Mattesini from the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, and colleagues propose a novel possibility for the structure of the core: that it is composed of mixtures of different iron arrangements distinguished by the way their atoms pack together.
By comparing seismic data from over one thousand earthquakes across the globe with quantum mechanical models for the properties of iron, they suggest that seismic variations directly reflect variations in the iron structure.
They propose that the eastern and western sides of the core differ in the extent of mixing of these distinct structures, and suggest their results account for the dynamic eastward drift of the core through time.

You can find the entire article here.

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Sunday Prayer

New Songs

The afternoon says:

“I’m thirsty for shadow!”
And the moon: “I want stars.”
The crystal fountain asks for lips,
the wind, for sighs.

I’m thirsty for scents and for laughter.
Thirsty for new songs
without irises or moons,
without dead loves.

A morning song that can shiver
quiet backwaters
of the future and fill
their waves and silt with hope.

A luminous and tranquil song
full of thought,
virgin to sadness and anguish,
virgin to reverie.

A song skinned of lyric, filling
silence with laughter.
(A flock of blind doves
tossed into mystery.)

A song to go to the soul of things
and to the soul of winds,
resting at last in the bliss
of the eternal heart.

– Federico Garcia Lorca


Morocco’s Fes Festival: Music, mysticism and meaning

Get ready for flamenco guitar, social consciousness and Sufi mystics. The world’s most spiritual music fest kicks off this week.

By CNN Travel staff 3 June, 2013

Uzbekistan's Yuldusz Turdevia Ensemble

Uzbekistan’s Yuldusz Turdevia Ensemble performed at the 2012 Fes Festival in Morocco.

The official goal of Morocco’s annual Fes Festival (June 7-15) “is to harness the arts and spirituality in the service of human and social development, and the relationship between peoples and cultures.”

More than earnest academic discussions, Fes Fest is a blast of music and dance, a raucous gathering of some of the most talented and exotic musicians in the region.

Organizers say between 300,00 and 400,000 are expected to attend this year’s festival.

Titled “Love is My Religion,” the opening night concert is being directed by Spain’s Andre Marin and showcases renowned flamenco vocalists Carmen Linares and La Macanita, legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, Morocco’s Amazigh songstress Cherifa and Sephardic singer Francoise Atlan.

American punk priestess Patti Smith is the festival’s closing act.

“Fes is the cultural, intellectual and spiritual cradle of Morocco, so it is significant that this annual festival takes place in the city,” says festival managing director Zebya Rahman.

Fes has been considered Morocco’s intellectual capital for centuries. In addition to the festival, visitors can check out the old medina and Dar Tazi gardens, or relax on Berber rugs and sip mint tea in atmospheric cafes around the city of approximately one million residents.

Fes Festival; June 7-15, 2013; tickets and information available on the festival website; most travelers arrive by rail or plane at Fes–Saïss Airport, located about 10 kilometers outside the city. Airlines that serve the aiport include Air Arabia, Air France, easyJet and Ryanair.