Join us for a screening of The Dove Flyer (Farewell Baghdad), followed by a discussion between language instructors Mohamed A. Alsiadi and Hagit Galor Halperin, and Ahuva Keren. They will discuss the making of the film, the heritage of Iraqi Jewry, and the memories that Iraqi Jews brought with them from Iraq to Israel and beyond.
The Dove Flyer (Farewell Baghdad) is an Israeli film, written and directed by Nissim Dayan, based on a novel by Iraqi-born Jewish author Eli Amir. Ahuva Keren translated the film into the Iraqi dialect of Judeo-Arabic, which is, like other Judeo languages (besides Yiddish), a dying language, with the passing of those Jews who moved out of Iraq. To date, The Dove Flyer is still the first and only Judeo-Arabic-language film.
Through the eyes of a 16-year-old Jewish boy, we follow the last days of the Baghdadi Jewish community of the early 1950s on the eve of the immigration of almost all of that community to Israel during Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. It is set in a period in which the kingdom of Iraq was torn between nationalism and community and was struggling to overcome its defeat in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Jewish community in Baghdad, considered the oldest diaspora outside of Israel, amounted at the time to about a quarter of the population of Baghdad. Its members grappled with their historical and cultural connection to Iraq, the growing support of their young ones for the communist movement, and their solidarity with the new State of Israel and Zionism.
About the Speakers
Keren is a well-respected and veteran TV and film actress in Israel. She graduated from the theater art program at Tel Aviv University and at the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio. She is also a graduate of the personal training course at Tel Aviv University. Since 1973, Keren has held numerous roles in theaters in Israel, working with Israeli and foreign directors in Israel’s leading theaters: Habima, The Cameri, Beit Lessin, the Khan, and Beer Sheva. In 2014, Keren initiated the production of The Dove Flyer. She translated the script into the Iraqi language, served as a dialogue coach for the actors who did not speak the language, and played the role of Naimah. Currently, in addition to her acting, Keren teaches acting, preparing students to be in front of the camera, coaching, and working with artists and actors.
Alsiadi received his B.A. from the Damascus Music Conservatory, where he specialized in oud performance and conducting orchestras. A regular at international festivals as a soloist and chamber musician, Alsiadi has performed at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, the national auditorium in Madrid, the historic Nidaros Cathedral in Norway, GUST University in Kuwait, and Merkin Hall in New York City. Other highlights include performances with the Malek Jandali Trio at the Vienna Konserthaus, Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and the Skoll World Forum. He is also founder of the Aleppo Ensemble, with whom he has led several concert series and festivals on Arabic music, including the Richmond Folk Festival. As a music researcher and historian, he has developed an extensive and exceptionally varied catalog of Arabic music recordings, which are archived at Rutgers University. He is an expert on song forms central to Middle Eastern music, namely the Arabic-sung poetry called qasida, and the Aleppian Wasla, a song form that is one of the foundations of Syrian songs.
Alsiadi was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, and he migrated to New York City in 1996, becoming a professor of Arabic language, literature, and culture. He is currently the lead professor and director of the Arabic studies program at Fordham University, and he is the chair of the U.S.-MidEast program at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University. He is regularly interviewed on TV and radio for a wide range of media sources, including PBS, HuffPost LIVE, Al Jazeera, ABC, CBS, and Great Decisions in Foreign Policy.
Halperin holds a master’s degree in Jewish art and visual culture from JTS, as well as a bachelor’s degree in restoration from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She holds an art teaching certificate from Ha’Midrashah Le’Amanut, an Israeli college for art education. Currently, Halperin teaches Hebrew at Fordham University, Dwight International High School, and JTS’s Ivry Prozdor program. Halperin has been leading tours in Hebrew at museums around New York, mainly for Ha-Ulpan students, since 2006. Halperin’s parents immigrated to Israel from Iraq before she was born.
This event is open to the public.