© 2020 Sandra Shapiro. 

SONGS MY SAFTA SANG TO ME

About two years after I was born, my parents moved from New York to a tiny town in Wisconsin. During this time, my Safta (grandmother in Hebrew) was brought to live with us for a year to help take care of my brother and I while my parents were busy establishing my father’s first medical practice. 

My Safta was an incredibly generous, loving, wise, kind and educated woman who could read and speak fluently in Hebrew, English, French, Spanish and Ladino. Her name, "Yedida" means "Beloved" which she was. 

 

She had eyes that noticed everything and sparkled with a hint of mischief. Her smile was like pure sunshine and she loved to laugh and sing. My Safta and I spent hours playing cards, singing songs, reading together, and going for walks. 

 

She knew how much I loved the old family photos and hearing stories about history from my Saba (grandfather), so she entrusted me with her photo collection and ancestral portraits which I received after she passed away. 

As I began to explore my family roots from my mother's side, I was astounded to learn that my Safta's family is one of the oldest families in Israel. The first to arrive was Rabbi Eliyahou Nissim from Salonika, Greece. He became one of the Chief Rabbi's of the "Beit Din DeSefaradim" (Sephardic Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem.  Prior to that, our ancestors were in Greece for two centuries. The earliest ancestor I have been able to trace was born in 1510, most probably Portugal or Italy.

The music in this program is reflective not only of of Safta, but my family's journey from Spain, to Portugal, Italy, Greece and finally Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire at that time.