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Kim Mizrahi - Un Cavritico (Chad Gadya in Ladino)

Un Cavritico (Chad Gadya in Ladino)

Kim Mizrahi“This is a Ladino version of Chad Gadya which is the one my dad used to sing at Pesach. I’ve never heard this song anywhere because we always held Seder at home and so I wouldn’t have had the opportunity. My father didn’t actually speak Ladino although my mum did; he spoke Castelliano. Therefore it’s possible that the song originated from my mother’s family.

My father Bension Mizrahi was born in Turkey in 1892, one of seven brothers and one sister. He left home at a very early age, around the time of his Bar Mitzvah. Life in small town Turkey wasn’t too good for the Jews so he and one of his brothers just jumped on a ship, threw their papers overboard and went to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay in South America.

There my dad became an apprentice tailor. He stayed for a number of years and then decided he wanted to go to the Philippines. So he got on a ship to the Philippines - in the early 1900s this trip took many weeks. He stayed in Manila for twenty years. He loved it; he said it was the best part of his life.

Eliakim Turiel, my mother's fatherHe established a large and successful wholesale textile business and used to travel round the world on buying trips; he went right round the world three or four times. But unfortunately his health wasn’t too good; the climate was very hot and humid all year round, and the doctor said he should get out of there. His intention was to settle in Japan as he knew that region like the back of his hand.

However on his last trip through America to Europe he met my mother Regine Turiel in Paris. She was from the Sephardi community in Rhodes. They got married and settled in Marseille where my late sister was born; my father never went back to the Philippines. This was just before the war and my mother’s brothers who had gone to America from Rhodes - they were shipping agents in New York - urged my parents to get out of Europe quickly. So my dad left my mum with the family in France and took a ship to Cape Town.

He had planned to settle in South Africa but at that stage the South African government was not too keen on new immigrants so he carried on to Rhodesia where there was an existing Sephardi community. He settled in a tiny town called Gwelo. My mum joined him just before the war broke out; many of her family members, indeed almost the whole community in Rhodes, perished.

Bension Mizrahi - Kim's father
I was born in Gwelo in 1940 and that’s where I grew up and went to school. The only other Sephardi family there were cousins of my mother, Amelie and Henri Soriano. There was a much bigger community in Salisbury and in those days also a thriving Sephardi community in the Belgian Congo, which is now Zaire.

After finishing school in Gwelo, I studied dentistry at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and qualified in 1963. I met Muriel Soskolne while still a dental student and we got married on the 12th July 1965, the following day we left for England. We lived in Manchester for three years, during which I specialised in Orthodontics. We returned to South Africa in 1968.

We came back to the UK in November 1996 and we are very fortunate that my children and grandchildren are all in London and every Seder we still sing this version of Chad Gadya."

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