In the studio: New CD brings Bnei Menashe music to the world

In the studio: New CD brings Bnei Menashe music to the world

At the recording studio in India

Irene Orleansky is a multi-talented Israeli musician whose work spans a wide range of genres – from world music to folk to new age and electronica. A popular performer on the Israeli club circuit, her latest project may be her most ambitious yet.

Orleansky has been traveling throughout the world to capture the music of far-flung Jewish communities. Her travels have so far taken her to two communities with which Shavei Israel works: the Jews of Kaifeng, China, and the Bnei Menashe of northeastern India, where she spent the Rosh Hashana holiday.

In Kaifeng, Orleansky recorded just a single song with a few Chinese musicians and singers; her work with the Bnei Menashe has been much more challenging. She taped a full seven popular Bnei Menashe compositions – including “Chavang Kolni” a song of the longing for Zion, which was performed by 14 Bnei Menashe from different communities throughout the Indian state of Manipur and recorded in a professional studio in Churachandpur. We have pictures from the recording sessions here.

Following Rosh Hashana, Orleansky traveled to the Indian state of Mizoram to record one more song with the Bnei Menashe Jewish community living there.

Orleansky’s project has two goals: to raise awareness about the existence of Jews in different parts of the world, and to preserve the art and heritage of indigenous Jewish communities. The project is entirely voluntary and will result in a complete CD of music with part of the proceeds going  to the Jewish communities involved to enable them to buy musical instruments and materials. The CD will be edited in Russia (Orleansky was born there) next year and will be available for sale in June 2013.

In addition to China and India, Orleansky has visited the Abayudaya community in Uganda; the Ol Koulaou in Kenya; the Sefwi Wiawso in Ghana; and the Kechene Jews of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. After her visit with the Bnei Menashe, she will travel to the Andra Pradesh region in India to record music from the Bnei Ephraim before returning to Africa to visit the Igbo Israelites in Nigeria and the Lemba in Zimbabwe and South Africa. We have more information about many of these communities on our website – click here for Africa and here for Asia.