MADRE, The Ladino project's current performance project is a tribute to the lives of Sephardic women over the ages.  MADRE expresses different aspects of women's lifecycle through Ladino folk-songs of North Africa and the Balkans, woven together with traditional and contemporary music, and interpreted through traditional and ethno-contemporary dance.  This project explores the women’s oral song tradition as it evolves over time from past to present, shedding light on the experience of womanhood in the old cultures of the Sephardic diaspora to the present day.  

Ladino song has become wildly popular in the last decades, as people are driven to investigate their origins and cultural roots as never before.  Ladino or Judeo-Spanish/Judezmo cultures arose as a result of expulsion of non-Christians from Spain by the king and queen in 1492.  Jews (and Muslims) fled to many lands - among them North Africa, Balkan countries, as well as Greece and Turkey. Over the years they kept their Judeo-Spanish identity, traditions, language and music alive, but since the mass immigrations out of Arab lands and into Israel and the West, the last generation of native speakers is dying out. 

The music has become irresistible to many, even without understanding the lyrics, as the melodies blend together lovely elements of Andalusian, Gypsy, and Balkan/Middle Eastern modes and rhythms.   In The Ladino Project, we have taken the folk songs as a base framework around which to create compositions that speak more to the complexity of the issues handled in each song.  For example, while many of these songs hint at the underlying frustration of being a woman in a culture in which her role was so defined and circumscribed by the home-hearth, it is for us to take these hints and re-describe them in our own musical and dance terms.

Meet the Artists

Click on the images to learn more about each artist! 







Date / Location



October 4, 2018 | Thursday
6:30-8:00 pm

Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA  

The Contemporary Jewish Museum & The Ladino Project Presents
Sephardic Legacy

Sephardic Legacy explores women’s oral song tradition and stories of women’s lives through folk music influenced by the Sephardi and Spanish diaspora. This evening of story, song, and dance weaves together the traditional and contemporary with music and songs from North Africa and the Balkans to Yemen and even Central Asia.

Past Performances

June 2nd, 2018 | Saturday   

Brava Theater
2781 24th St
San Francisco, CA   

Diaspora Arts Connection Presents 
The Ladino Project: MADRE

Sephardic musical traditions interwoven with Flamenco portray a woman's life cycle through song and dance. MADRE brings together leading talent in Middle Eastern music with cutting edge Flamenco culture of the Bay Area. 


January 15th, 2018 | Sunday

Freight & Salvage
Berkeley, CA

MADRE World Premiere

Sephardic Legacy explores women’s oral song tradition and stories of women’s lives through folk music and dance.



by The Ladino Project




Rachel and Miriam’s Sephardic Jewish odyssey

Berkeley Side


Ladino groove: Two moms

channel ‘herstory’ through song 

and dance


The Times of Israel



“The amber tone of the oud, the plaintive cry of the ney, and the cyclic percussion intertwine in sublime fashion . . . truly world music, some of the most open, human music you’ll hear . . .”
— Mark Keresman, East Bay Express
“Beautifully presented, the players bring superb musicianship and palpable enthusiasm to each performance. Eliyahu’s ney flute along with Rachel’s succulent vocals are stars. creating a sense of human communication with the divine.”
— All Things Considered, NPR
“Visionary . . . achingly beautiful . . .”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Their songs flow like ancient poetry “

— East Bay Express
“Listeners are deeply moved”
— Jewish Telegraph, London




For booking contact Miriam Peretz

For all other inquiries contact Rachel Valfer