Visit the Museum





Academic Research

Remember Survivors and Victims

Genocide Prevention

Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial

Outreach Programs

Other Museum Websites



I first met Flory Jagoda in 2001 when she founded our Ladino group, Vijitas de Alhad (Sunday visits). I was one of the very first members of that group, and I was immediately seduced by her charm. She was an approximately 80-year-old lady, a native of Bosnia who moved to the States after marrying a young US Army officer in 1945. Flory was a young bride whose wedding gown was made from a parachute. A singer and composer, Flory wrote “Ocho Kandelikas” (Eight candles)—the famous song that celebrates Hanukkah. I started to attend our monthly visit assiduously, and it was like love at first sight.

The purpose of our group is to relive the experience of our youth, when we would meet at one of our relatives’ homes and spend some quality time together. I remember going to visit my uncle on Sundays where we would meet some friends. As a teenager, I hated that experience, but today, some 60 years later, I am glad we can enjoy it. We bring dishes we would enjoy on those Sundays—Turkish and Greek dishes like borekas and filas.

Our Sunday visits begin with a potluck lunch prepared by members and consisting of some of those same dishes. Then we sit down around Flory and sing her songs together. Sometimes, she is accompanied by her “apprentice,” Susan Gaeta, and sometimes by the tias (aunts) with whom she still performs today. After that, we read a page in Judeo-Spanish, and then we listen to speeches or news from our members. It is a very pleasant experience, surrounding ourselves with people who share our roots and can speak the language of our parents with varying degrees of success; some are quite fluent, while others struggle.

In 2003, we traveled together to Poland, where Flory had been invited to sing at the unveiling of a Judeo-Spanish plaque at Auschwitz. The scholar who initiated the campaign to add that plaque survived the killing center and later dedicated his life to the survival of our parents’ language. He wanted her to sing “Arvoles Yoran por Yuvias” (Trees are crying for rain)—a song that he credited for saving his life in Auschwitz, because he earned an extra ration of soup for singing it.

Flory also sang “La Bendision de la Mujer” (The blessing of the bride) at two of my daughters’ weddings.

Flory is now 92 years old and very frail but still full of life and humor. She still performs successfully. And our Sunday visits are getting stronger and stronger. We started with five or six members, but we are now more than 40. We are forced to turn down people because of the lack of space in our homes to accommodate such a crowd.

© 2016 Albert Garih. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.

Tags:   albert garihechoes of memory, volume 9familyfriendsmemorialsmemory


NEXT POST: My Mother

View All Blog Posts