The spectacle of differences: Bracha Zefira’s tour in Poland in 1929 as an example of cultural appropriation

“Exotic songs evening” procclaimed an announcment in Lublin Yiddish daily Lubliner tugblat accompanied by a photo showing 18-year old Bracha Zefira (1911-1988) wearing stylized version of traditional Yemeni dress and jewelry. Sitting bare feet with uncoverd arms and huge smile glancing at the camera she evoked the myths about women of the Orient. The advertisment promoted one of Zefira’s shows during her tour through Poland in 1929. The singer was visiting not only big cities of the time such as Kraków, Łódź, Lublin or Białystok but also smaller places like Grodno, Chełm, or Brześć.
In my paper by using the exaple of Zefira’s tour I will analyze the discourse about place and function of the cultural appropriation in the interwar Poland. Ulltimately, by describing the performances of Bracha Zefira and their reception by Jews and non-Jews, I will track various images of Mizrahi Jews in late 1920s Poland.

5th Annual International
Polish Jewish Studies Workshop

“Centering the Periphery: Polish Jewish Cultural Production Beyond the Capital”

Rutgers University
the State University of New Jersey

March 5-6, 2018
Rutgers University Inn
178 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ  08901