Bridging time, distance and mistrust, with music

A documentary recently aired on Moroccan national television, “In Your Eyes, I See My Country,” which has aired at festivals in Marrakech and elsewhere, follows Ms. Elkayam and Mr. Cohen, her husband, on a trip to the Morocco, including visits to the hometown of their grandparents. He shows Moroccans kissing him, shaking his hand, even telling him that they remember his grandparents’ names.

To be an Arabic-speaking Jew, in both Israel and Morocco, means living with a complex and sometimes contradictory set of expectations, said Aomar Boum, an anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, who specializes in Judeo-Muslim relations. In the film, it is clear that Ms. Elkayam is “carrying a heavy weight,” he said. “It’s only the music that connects the dots.”

The film, due to be screened next month at the Miami Jewish Film Festival, shows him with Mr. Cohen giving concerts to a predominantly Muslim audience. clothes and country boys welcome him like a brother.

Kamal Hachkar, the Moroccan director of the film, said: “What touched me the most about Neta was that I quickly understood that she was singing to mend the wounds of exile. The documentary, he added, “is a way of defying the fatality of the great story that separated our parents and grandparents and that our generation can recreate links through music, which is a real common territory and crucible for Jews and Muslims “.

The political context is inescapable.

“Singing in Arabic is a political statement,” Ms. Elkayam said. “We want to be part of this area, we want to use the language to communicate with our neighbors. It’s not just about remembering the past.

About Wesley V. Finley

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