Illustration of a Klezmer Band (Amsterdam Klezmer Band)  Photo credit: Otto Normalverbraucher; cropped by Beyond My Ken-Wikimedia

Benjamin Kadoshi came to Israel about three years ago and still can’t get over the fact that here he is in the biblical Holy Land, living his life amongst his own people! Benny, who is 26, and encountering new experiences as fast as he can digest them, is quite overwhelmed by the work of Israeli emissaries who make their way to the most remote corners of the globe to discover exiled remnants of Israelite tribes and bring them back to the Holy Land. A recent discovery Benny told me about is that of an isolated tribe in the mountains of Peru who have a stone tablet with the Ten Commandments engraved on it, and who circumcise their sons on the 8th day after birth.  

Benny can trace his roots back to 15th Century Portugal, from where his family escaped to Brazil, moving subsequently to Mexico. A very musical family, the Sanchez clan followed tradition by naming the eldest son after the grandfather, and Benny can trace the alternation of two first names down the generations at the Diaspora Museum. Benny grew up in a kosherhousehold. Being the only Jewish family in their village, his family did their own slaughtering, and he felt somewhat like an outsider eating his sandwiches whilst his schoolmates ate at the cafeteria. 

Exceptionally musical – his father greeted his birth by playing a Mozart symphony – Benny sang in choirs from an early age, and plays the clarinet. In fact it was during a performance of his university choir in a church at Christmas when Benny found himself surrounded by statues of Mary and Jesus for the first time, that he suddenly asked himself what he was doing in Mexico. In a dreamlike state he walked out of the performance and came with two cousins to Israel. Benny has spent the past two years at a yeshiva, studying traditional Jewish texts and receiving instruction on orthodox ritual observance, culminating in a Giyur Lahumra (strict conversion) which now makes him feel very much part of his own people in every way. 

At present Benny is continuing the music education which he started in Mexico, as a 3rd year student at the Hebrew University Academy of Music and Dance. A stipend from ESRA during his first year at the Academy helped him keep body and soul together, and he is very grateful for that help. At present he teaches students clarinet in Gush Etzion and in Jerusalem. He recently formed a Klezmer band which plays at weddings and on other festive occasions. Besides Benny on clarinet, the band comprises musicians who play violin, double bass and accordion - with the intention of adding a synthesizer to round out the sound. 

ESRA’s Scholarship Fund has for the past five years been giving students substantial grants to help them with their studies. When we reviewed Benjamin Kadoshi’s application for a scholarshipduring his first year at the Academy of Music and Dance, we invited him for an interview with the donor. Benny is a charming, hardworking musician, and the donor was totally blown away by his history and by his serious pursuit of a musical future here in Israel. It is a privilege to have been able to help him on his path.  

Adele Hunter, Coordinator of ESRA’s Scholarship Fund 

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Dina Raveh

Dina Raveh came to Israel from Cape Town, South Africa in 1961. She studied Life Sciences at the Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute of Science and held a position on the academic staff of...

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