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The Bene Israel were the largest of the three distinct Jewish communities of India before their mass migration to Israel in the 1950s. Professor Anna Schultz will present an introduction to the Marathi language songs of the Bene Israel of Bombay (Mumbai) and will discuss the role of these songs in articulating identities that are both Indian and Jewish. In particular, she will address how the Bene Israel strengthened their Jewish faith and community by translating songs from neighboring groups.
Anna Schultz is associate professor of music at the University of Chicago, where she is also an associate member of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies. The core issue animating her research in India and beyond is music’s power to activate profound religious experiences that in turn shape other identities. Her first book, Singing a Hindu Nation: Marathi Devotional Performance and Nationalism, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013, and her second book, Songs of Translation: Bene Israel Gender and Textual Orality, is also under contract with OUP.