Ilana Eliya was brought to London to give her concert at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre by Gulan, the charity formed to promote knowledge and understanding of the Kurdish people. Gulan has held a number of festivals of Kurdish arts and culture, and a series of events celebrating the minority religions of the Kurdistan region, including the Yezidis, the Faylee Kurds and the Al-e Haq or Yarsan, the People of Truth.

The most recent of this series has been its celebration of the Jews of Kurdistan. This featured an evening at the Royal Geographical Society on 28 June 2012. The speakers were Yona Sabar, Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic at UCLA who grew up in an Araamaic speaking Jewish community in Zakho, Kurdistan, and his son, Ariel Sabar, author of the award winning book about the Jews of Kurdistan and his father’s remarkable life story, My Father’s Paradise. Kurdish musicians Arya Zakri and Awat Afroozi performed, and the was the first ever exhibition of the work of photographer Anthony Kersting’s outstanding and historic images of Kurdistan in the 1940s, made available by the Courtauld Institute of Art’s Conway Library.

On Saturday 30 June a concert of Kurdish Jewish music was held at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, featuring Ilana Eliya from Jerusalem who sang wonderfully, together with Daphna Sadeh and the Voyagers. The audience joined in enthusiastically with Kurdish dancing. Coverage of these events can be seen on the Gulan website:

Gulan is building up an archive of historic photographs and is documenting Kurdish costume on its website. It plans to add details of the wonderful wedding dress of Professor Sabar’s mother which was modelling on 28 June. If readers know of other traditional costumes of the Kurdish people Gulan would be delighted to hear from them.

Among the feedback Gulan received were these comments:

I truly hope the KRG will wake up to the importance of the history of the Jews of Kurdistan and create a Jewish memorial center or a museum in Zakho. Kae Bahar

Well done on a wonderful evening on Saturday. It was powerful stuff, and very touching to see the audience so enlivened and proud of their culture…. a real success. Peter Dempsey

I really appreciate all that.. GULAN is doing on behalf of the Kurdish community and in turn the wider London community. I had only intended to be there for part of Saturday night’s proceedings. But the musicians were so enchanting that I was captivated. Great event. Clyde Williams.

Sarah Panizzo – Trustee, Gulan –