This historical ethnography of music-making in an interwar Istanbul neighborhood aims to expand our understanding of Turkish Jewish women and their musical lives. Jewish religious law historically excluded women's voices from prayer services, and past ethnomusicological scholarship has separated gendered music-making into two distinct categories: male-Hebrew-liturgical and female-Ladino-folk. Using oral history methods interwoven with memoirs and urban histories, I elucidate the participation of Jewish girls and women in musical life on the street, at home, and in synagogue, exposed to the ambient Turkish art music forms underpinning Hebrew-language religious music sung in synagogues. By investigating the neighborhood as historical "soundscape," the study expands our understanding of indirect exposures and direct learning opportunities for girls and contributes to re-theorizing gender and Jewish music-making. Moreover, the life story of Janti Behar illuminates how one woman negotiated the space between gendered community musical expectations and a changing Turkish society.


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pp. 31-66
Launched on MUSE
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