From the Sephardi egalitarian synagogue in Jerusalem (yes Virginia, they exist!) Degel Yehuda, a beautiful recording of three different tunes from the Kurdish Jewish community for the book of Lamentations, traditionally read on Tisha beAv.
In northern Iraq, where soldiers are battling the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS, one fiery singer is on a mission to stir up patriotic sentiment.
Crimson-haired Iraqi performer Helly Luv has a recording contract in the U.S., but she didn’t want to shoot her latest video in Hollywood.
Her track, called “Revolution,” is a tribute to the ethnically Kurdish soldiers known as peshmerga who are fighting against ISIS. So she took a video team to a front-line village, as bullets flew and battles raged.
“Yeah!” she tells me. “We shot the video right there, and it was so crazy.”
The video features a bejeweled Helly Luv — herself Kurdish — dancing in a traditional peshmerga outfit, and in a tank firing a shell.
“Rise up, ‘cause we’re so much stronger as one,” she sings in English. “Breaking the silence as loud as a gun. Brothers and sisters, we all come from one. Different religions, we share the same blood.”
March 20 2016 - Pro-Kurdish revolutionaries clash with Turkish police in the Gazi district of Istanbul, after Turkish authorities banned the celebration of Newroz, the traditional Kurdish new year. [video]
Akre, Bashuri (southern) Kurdistan - basically, one of the best places to spend Newroz.
Newroz is the Kurdish New Year, the celebration of new life and the coming of Spring. Fire is an important symbol, as is the sun, in Kurdish culture so huge fires are lightened during this celebration.
Akre is the most important city during Newroz due to it’s history. In this city, thousands of years ago, the evil king Zuhaq was defeated by a Kurdish blacksmith, Kawa. Zuhaq oppressed the Kurdish people and Kawa swore to behead him in order to end his tyranny. Once Zuhaq was defeated, Kawa burned a huge fire on the mountain-top to notify the people.
To honour this day of freedom and new life, thousands of Kurds will walk with torches around the town of Akre then onto the mountains to celebrate Newroz and praise the origins and culture of their people.