"La Serena"

"La Serena" is a song about a mythical, serene beauty who lives in a tower by the sea. The Jews of Istanbul said the tower was in the Bosphorus (the name of the tower sounds like Kiskoolaysee) and the Jews of Greece said the tower was in the Aegean Sea, and the beautiful woman in the tower was like the Sirens in Homer's Odysseus. In any case, the song was taught to Voices of Sepharad vocalist David Harris by an elderly gentleman in the Home for the Aged in Thessolinki, Greece. The lyrics, in Judeo-Espanol or Ladino say that a sailor falls in love with the beautiful, mysterious woman in the tower. "Oh my love, my dove, if only the sea were made of milk, I would cast out my nets, to pull you in with little words of love."

The costume is inspired by a lithograph in the E. Fulgenzi collection of miniatures from Smyrna, Turkey, dated 1838. The Jewish woman of Smyrna is pictured wearing trousers with a jacket. Judith has added a black shawl with silk fringes that seem like feathers; it belonged to her great grandmother.

Photo by Keri Pickett

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