Kuwaiti singer opens Sephardic festival

Press Point of No Return 3.18.2016

The Kuwaiti singer Ema Shah serenaded the audience at the opening night of the American Sephardi Federation’s 19th New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival. Ema Shah, who shocked people in 2010 by singing Hava Nagila, speaks for many Arabs when she says that she doesn’t care about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Ema Shah is a superstar in Kuwait and the Arab world.

Ema Shah, who shocked people in 2010 by singing Hava Nagila, speaks for many Arabs when she says that she doesn’t care about the Israel- Palestine conflict. Ema Shah is a superstar in Kuwait and the Arab world.

Known for her singing and her musical style, which blends pop and classical influences, she is also a pioneer for women in the region, choosing to dress as she wishes —not just on stage but in everyday life as well.

Lately, Shah is trying to break a political taboo by reaching out to Jewish musicians defying cultural hostility to Israel, hoping she can help cultivate peace. The 34-year-old Shah’s interest in Hebrew dates to 2010, when she caused an international controversy by singing the familiar Jewish folk song, “Hava Nagila,” at a nightclub as part of a performance involving multiple languages.

The New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival runs from March 10th to 17th 2016 at the Center for Jewish History in New York City (15 West 16th Street).