In 2002, the Virginia Folklife Program invited Susan Gaeta to participate in the Master/Apprenticeship program with Sephardic musician and composer Flory Jagoda. A 2002 recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship, Flory Jagoda is known as “the keeper of the flame” of the once rich Sephardic Jewish song tradition. Flory sings the songs she learned from her nona (grandmother) as a child in pre-WWII Sarajevo – songs which have been passed down in her family since they fled the Spanish Inquisition in 1492. All of her ballads are sung in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language dating back centuries.
Susan Gaeta, an accomplished musician in her own right, demonstrates a deep intellectual and personal interest in carrying on this precious traditional art form.
Each time the Sephardic people were exiled, the key to the front door of each family home was carried away by the reluctant travelers… Also carried away was the language and culture of the country that had been home for hundreds of years.
Nona’s kitchen drawer was full of song lyrics collected from the many Sephardic women who gathered there. Flory Jagoda’s richest musical inheritance, that now touches me, came from her Nona’s drawer. Like the women who breathed before us, the voices and hearts of those who carried the tradition, pass through me to sing for you now.Susan Gaeta
- Flory’s Introduction (Chichi Bunichi)
La lingua de la madre-the language of the mother-all my songs that I brought to this country, I learned from my Nona— a real Sephardic folk singer. She sang a lot of Bosnian folk songs and little by little the Sephardic songs were losing the Spanish touch and adapting the flavor and the rhythms of Bosnia but the lyrics were always there. They have never left their Ladino language. I sing it in a very old fashioned Bosnian way. Then I taught my daughter, my daughter taught my aprentesita. It doesn’t sound the same—but it travelled— and this is the story of Sephardic songs. They could sound French, they could sound Greek, or Turkish because they settled in so many different lands. So when I heard them singing for the first time I said, “My God! It’s American now!” and I was so happy to hear that.
- Yo M’enamori Yo m’enamori d’un aire D’un aire de una mujer D’una mujer muy ermoza Linda de mi korason Yo m’enamori de noche El lunar ya m’enganyo Si esto era de diya Yo no atava amor Si otra vez yo m’enamoro D’un aire de una mujer D’una mujer muy ermoza Linda de mi korason Sea de diya kun el sol
- Pesah Ala Mano Purim, Purim Purim lano Pesah, Pesah a la mano Las masas si stan faziendo Los japrakis si stan koziendo Aman, Aman Il Dyo bendicho muz da mazal Purim, Purim, Purim lano Pesah, Pesah ala mano La Nona sta diziendo a los nyetos Alimpya il puelvo kantones i los techos Purim, Purim Purim lano Pesah, Pesah ala mano Il Sinyor Rubi disho a las tiyas No kumer il pan ocho diyas
- Simhat Tora Simhat Tora Simhat Tora Ya se nacyo la kriyatura Kun las kantikas di alegriyas Buenas pastelis di mis tiyas Simhat Tora Simhat Tora Las mansanas, myel i sirezas Il anyu muevu kun las dulsezas Simhat Tora Simhat Tora
- Siniza I Fumo En la guerta kemada Asentada la fija Pasharos pretos Apretan su korason Por los sielos ariva Pasa la luna Tapando su kara Kun una nuve de karbon Siniza I fumo Bolando, kayendo En un esfuenyo malo Sin salvasyon Siniza I fumo Inchen suz ojos No ay ken ke la desperte A darle konsolasyon
- Las Tiyas Tiya Mazalta muz va a yamar nochi di Hanuka Tiya Graysa muz va a yamar nochi di Hanuka Para sinder las kandelikas kun toda la mispaha Las hanukiyas di sirma blanka muz kali alimpyar Tiya Luna muz va a yamar nochi di Hagada Tiya Safira muz va a yamar nochi di Hagada Para kumer las albondikas kun toda la mispaha Kantaremus “Un Kavritiko” dispuez di las birahas Tiya Paloma muz va a yamar a kumer in la Suka Tiya Estreya muz va a yamar a kumer in la Suka Kun frutas i flores di muchas kolores Kun toda la mispaha
- La Orasion de la Mujer Kun esta kandela Arrogamos al Dyo El Dyo de muestros padres Avram, Isak i Yakov Ke muz de vida saludoza A todus miz keridus I al mundo intero Kun esta kandela Arrogamos al Dyo El Dyo de muestras madres de Israel Sara, Rifka, Lea i Rahel Ke muz de paz i amor A todus miz keridus I al mundo intero Amen
- Madre Miya Madre miya si mi muero Hazanim no kero yo Si no doze mansevikos Adelantre l’ mi aron Halva sheker ola Madre miya si mi muero Ke me yevan davagar Ke veyan ke so muchachika Ke se metan a yorar Halva sheker ola
- El Diya De Purim Mordehay manda i dize A los Djidyos ke se avize En Adar katordze i kindze Ke es diya de Purim Biva yo, biva el Rey Bivan todos Israel Biva la Rena Ester Ke moz dio tanto plaser Il Aman mamzer segundo Asi tenga negro mundo Kijo echar Djidyos al fundo En los diyas de Purim Kon la asukri i la farina Ya moz vyene la madrina Para fazer la halva fina Para l’dia de Purim
- Buena Semana Buena semana moz del Dyo Buena semana moz del Dyo Buena semana moz del Dyo Salud i vida Ke miz fijus vengan al Kal Ke moz fijus vengan a Kal Para maldar la Tora Salud i vida Para maldar kun Talasim Para maldar kun Talasim Para trayer los Tefillin Salud i vida
- De Boka Del Dyo Non ay santo komo Adonay I non ay piyadozo komo Ben Amram I non ay guadrada komo muestra ley I non ay ken la malde komo Israel De boka del Dyo, de boka del Dyo Seamoz bendichos todoz los Djidios Mip-pi-el, mip-pe-el Yevorah kol Israel Non ay fuerte komo Adonay I non ay bendicho komo Ben Amram I non ay grande komo muestra ley I non ay ken la malde komo Israel Non ay ermozo komo Adonay I non ay viyejo komo Ben Amram I non ay limpyo komo muestra ley I non ay ken la malde komo Israel Non ay bueno komo Adonay I non ay limpyo komo Ben Amram I non ay derecha komo muestra ley I non ay ken la malde komo Israel
- Anderleto Anderleto, mi Anderleto Mi kerido i namorado Ay, mi kerido i namorado Mas te kero, i mas te amo Ke il Rey kun su renado Ay, ke il Rey kun su renado Doz ijikos de ti tengo I doz del Rey ke son kuatro Ay, i doz del Rey ke son kuatro Los del Rey tienen kavayos I los tuyos son en mis brasos Ay, i los tuyos son en mis brasos
- I Fell In Love I fell in love with the charms The charms of a woman Of a very beautiful woman The beauty of my heart I fell in love at night The moonlight was my undoing If it had been in daylight Love would not have bound me If I fall in love again With the charms of a woman Of a very beautiful woman The beauty of my heart It will be by day with the sunlight
- Pesach Is At Hand Purim, Purim, Purim is over Pesach, Pesach is at hand Matzot are being made The stuffed leaves are being baked Aman, Aman Almighty God gives us good fortune Purim, Purim, Purim is over Pesach, Pesach is at hand The grandmother is telling the grandchildren Clean the dust, corners and ceilings Purim, Purim, Purim is over Pesach, Pesach is at hand The Rabbi tells the aunts Not to eat bread for eight days
- Rejoicing of the Law Rejoicing of the law Rejoicing of the law A new child is born With songs of happiness My aunts arrive laden with pies Rejoicing of the law Rejoicing of the law Apples, honey and cherries To sweeten the new year Rejoicing of the law Rejoicing of the law
- Ash and Smoke In the parched garden The girl sits Blackbirds Weigh down her heart In the sky above The moon passes Hiding her face In a cloud of ashes Ash and smoke Flying, Falling in a nightmare with no salvation Ash and smoke Swell her eyes There is no one to wake her To give her consolation
- The Aunts Aunt Mazalta will invite us the night of Hanukah Aunt Grasya will invite us the night of Hanukah To light the little candles with the whole family The menorahs of white silver must be cleaned Aunt Luna will invite us the night of Passover Aunt Safira will invite us the night of Passover To eat the matzah balls with the whole family We will sing “Chad Gadya” after the prayers Aunt Paloma will invite us to eat in the Sukkah Aunt Estreja will invite us to eat in the Sukkah With fruits and flowers of many colors With the whole family
- The Woman’s Prayer With this candle We pray to God God of our Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob To grant us good life and health To all my dear ones And the whole world With this candle We pray to God God of our Mothers of Israel Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel To grant us peace and love To all my dear ones And the whole world Amen
- Mother Mine Mother mine, if I die Cantors I do not want But twelve young men Walking before my coffin Halva and sugar Mother mine, if I die Let then carry me gently, slowly So they may see that I am a young maiden Then they will cry Halva and sugar
- Purim Day Mordechai’s proclamation To all the Jews is That the 14th and 15th of Adar Is the day of Purim Long life to me, long live the King Long live all of Israel Long live Queen Ester Who gave us so much pleasure Haman was one of many persecutors May he be cursed He wanted to do away with the Jews In the days of Purim With sugar and flour The godmother is coming to us To make fine halvah For the days of Purim
- A Good Week May God give us a good week May God give us a good week May God give us a good week Health and life May my sons come to the synagogue May my sons come to the synagogue To study Torah Health and life To pray with the Tallis To pray with the Tallis And bring the Tefillin Health and life
- From God’s Mouth No one is as holy as God And no one as pious as the son of Amram Nothing protects like our Law And no one reads it like Israel From God’s mouth, From God’s mouth All the Jews should be blessed. Mip-pi-el, mip-pe-el Yevorah kol Israel There is no one as mighty as God And no one as blessed as the son of Amram There is nothing greater than our Law And no one reads it like Israel. There is no one as beautiful as God No sage as wise as the son of Amram There is nothing purer than our Law And no one reads it like Israel There is no one as good as God And no one purer than the son of Amram There is nothing more righteous than our Law And no one reads it like Israel
- Anderleto Anderleto, my Anderleto My dear one, my beloved My dear one, my beloved I want you more, I love you more Than the king and all his kingdom Than the king and all his kingdom Two sons have I from you And two from the king makes four And two from the king makes four The king’s sons have horses And your sons are in my arms And your sons are in my arms