Don't Drop the Torah

Photo courtesy of Maurice Shohet and family, as displayed in the Iraqi Jewish Archive exhibition arranged by the National Archives and Record Administration

An Online Multimedia Event for Simhath Torah, Teaching the Lively Songs and Ancient Customs from Iraq

Sun Oct 9 11:30 am – 1:30 pm Pacific Time

The ancient Iraqi Jewish community has many distinct traditions for the holiday of Simhath Torah – such as singing lively call-and-response songs, ululating, throwing candies, and snapping loudly with the two index fingers together. (It’s quite different, and much louder, than the Western way!) Unlike the Central/Eastern European Jewish community, which has a tradition of drinking and dancing around with the Torah, the Iraqi community does neither – and actually prohibits dancing with the Torah, out of respect for its sacredness and caution about dropping it. Ticket price for this two-hour event includes free gifts, exclusive access, and a 15% storewide discount on KHAZZOOM – all to deepen your Jewish multicultural knowledge and celebration, before and after the program.

What You’ll Experience

In this egalitarian, all-inclusive, multimedia class – which you can participate in fully, without prior knowledge of Hebrew, Judaism, or Middle East culture – you’ll experience the following:

  • Learn energetic Simhath Torah songs from Iraq, and sing them together.
  • Learn to ululate and snap your fingers, Iraqi style, then have a go at it, while singing together.
  • Learn basic Middle Eastern drum rhythms, then clap your hands or bang along on a table, while singing together.
  • See images of the Iraqi Torah (Jewish Bible) and rimonim (decorative tassels) that go on top of the Torah.
  • See the kis il’yahu hanabee – the Chair of Elijah the Prophet – which Iraqi Jews have in the sukkah, and learn about the different traditions regarding Elijah’s visits.
  • Enjoy captivating personal stories from Simhath Torah in the Iraqi Jewish community – including the story of a feminist uprising in the women’s section, during one fine Simhath Torah service.
  • Enjoy a live performance of “Conformity” – a song by Iraqis in Pajamas, incorporating an Iraqi Simhath Torah song and original alternative rock – and learn the back story of the song, which was the first one the band created that combined Iraqi Jewish prayer and original rock.

What You’ll Get

The fee for this workshop includes this bundle of gifts:

  • Free digital copy of Ancestral Ways II: Iraqi Simhath Torah Songs, an acappella album filled with classic Iraqi call-and-response songs for the holiday. This album is available exclusively to class participants and KHAZZOOM patrons, and will not be released to the general public.
  • Free digital copy of Iraqis in Pajamas debut album, which includes the full band performance of “Conformity,” incorporating the classic Simhath Torah song, “Eli Eli Lama.”
  • Free digital copy of The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage, the first anthology by Jewish women of color
  • 15% storewide discount off all products in the KHAZZOOM online store.
  • KHAZZOOM program participant code for access to Ancestral Ways: Iraqi High Holiday Hits – a double-album album featuring 20 tracks of 10 classic Iraqi High Holiday prayers, first sung a cappella style, in the original version, then sung improvisationally with crystal singing bowls – for use in meditation, yoga, sacred sance practice and so on. This album is not available to the general public.

Join My Affiliate Program, for Special Discounts and Donations!

When your organization becomes a KHAZZOOM program affiliate – at no cost, with no formalities, by simply promoting this event to your community – you’ll receive a special sign-up link, which will track all registrations from your organization, and offer your organization one of two perks, as per your preference: 1) Your organization will receive 20% of all ticket sales coming from that sign-up link, or 2) your community members will receive 20% off the ticket price. Sign up to become a program affiliate, or find out more, by contacting KHAZZOOM.

About Loolwa Khazzoom

Loolwa Khazzoom’s award-winning work has been featured in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, BBC News, and other top media internationally, and she has presented at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Barnard Center for Research on Women, Harvard University, and other leading institutes worldwide. She pioneered the Jewish multicultural movement in 1990 and was the first woman worldwide to lead egalitarian Mizrahi/Sephardi prayers.