Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad. Through her multi-media song, story and slide programs, she shares her rare and intimate knowledge of this ancient community’s history, customs and melodies with audiences at synagogues, schools, libraries, women’s groups and cultural events.
Ms. Musleah is an award-winning journalist with hundreds of published articles to her credit. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Family Circle, Publishers Weekly, Hadassah, Reform Judaism, Jewish Woman, Na’amat Woman and numerous other Jewish journals.
Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah (Lerner/Kar-Ben), which introduces the Sephardic custom of blessing the Jewish new year with symbolic foods, was named a Notable Book of 2004 by the Association of Jewish Libraries. Her haggadah, Why On This Night? A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration ( Simon & Schuster), has been received with critical acclaim. She is the co-author, with Rabbi Michael Klayman, of Sharing Blessings: Children’s Stories for Exploring the Spirit of the Jewish Holidays (Jewish Lights), the author of Journey of a Lifetime: The Jewish Life Cycle Book (Behrman House).
Her CD, Hodu: Jewish Rhythms from Baghdad to India, features ancient texts, authentic melodies and contemporary rhythms. (“Hodu,” in Hebrew, means both “India” and “Praise God!”) It was named one of the top ten CDs of 2004 by the New York Jewish Week and has received excellent reviews in Hadassah magazine and other publications. Her songbook, B’Kol Arev: Songs of the Jews of Calcutta, compiled more than 50 songs for Shabbat, holidays and special occasions (Tara Publications); an accompanying cassette featured 18 selections.
Ms. Musleah has received awards for her writing from the American Jewish Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Sephardi Literary Contest, the Society of National Association Publications, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. She has received several grants for her work and was part of the New York Council for the Humanities’ “Speakers in the Humanities” 2000-2002. Her writing, songs and recipes have also been included in several anthologies.
Ms Musleah is a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She sings with New York’s Zamir Chorale, under the direction of Matthew Lazar. She lives in Great Neck, NY, and hopes to pass down the legacy of the Indian Jewish community to her two children, Shira and Shoshana.
Please visit her website: www.rahelsjewishindia.com.