What would it be like to return to the village your ancestors called home, to walk in their footsteps, and try to recover their stories and culture? Ladino singer and songwriter Sarah Aroeste did just that for her seventh album, which honors what was once the largest Jewish community in the country now known as North Macedonia. In the mountainous city of Bitola, formerly known as Monastir, 98% of the Jewish population that remained after the Balkan Wars was deported in 1943, and murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Aroeste talks about her experiences in Monastir, explains why Sephardic culture is Jewish culture, and performs her song Mi Monastir.”

Then, Manya Brachear Pashman talks about the challenge of confronting and processing the antisemitic attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Episode Lineup:

  • (0:40) Sarah Aroeste
  • (27:53) Manya Brachear Pashman

Show Notes:

Songs in this episode are from: Monastir. Listed in order of appearance:

  • Espinelo
  • Jovano, Jovanke (feat. Odelia Dahan Kehila and Gilan Shahaf)
  • Mi Monastir 

Liner notes for Monastir, with lyrics and translations.

Listen to our most recent episodes: 

  1. AJC CEO David Harris on the Deborah Lipstadt Holocaust Denial Trial and AJC’s Critical Role in the Fight
  2. Inside the Colleyville, Texas Synagogue Hostage Crisis: Hear from 3 Local Jewish and Muslim Leaders on What It Was Like on the Ground

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Tune in next week for a tribute to slain Jewish reporter Daniel Pearl, 20 years after his death.

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Photo credit: Sarah Aroeste’s cousin Rachel (Nachmias) and family, c. 1922.