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Karen Gerson Şarhon

Karen Gerson Şarhon

Founder of the first Sephardic music group in Turkey
"Music creates a bridge between people and communities."

Date of Birth: 25/05/1958 1958

Place of Birth: Istanbul

Date of Death:

Place of Death:

Burial Site:



Karen Gerson Şarhon Karen Gerson Şarhon

Field of Activity

"Together with my friends İzzet Bana, Yavuz Hubeş and Selim Hubeş I founded the first Sephardic music group of Turkey Los Pasharos Sefaradis in 1978. My aim is to do research on Judeo-Spanish folk songs and with new compositions to revive the Turkish-Sephardic culture.
Through the songs we have collected over the last 35 years, the number of pieces we have today in our archive exceeds 400. Many of those people from whom we learned these songs are no longer with us. We take great care that we sing these songs we learned from our grandmothers in exactly the same way as they sang them. We have given over 300 concerts with the Los Pasharos Sefaradis group both in Turkey and abroad.
We have produced 6 albums consisting of Judeo-Spanish folk songs. Since 2001 we have become aware of the shortage of publications of religious music performed in synagogues and we have also worked on this subject.
The concert we gave on 21st February 2012 as the Los Pasharos Sefaradis group on the occasion of the World Mother Language at a venue called Zifiri Karanlık was one of the most interesting concert experiments for us. As this venue was managed by blind people, the whole concert and our speeches on the language of the Turkish Jews, Judeo-Spanish, were held in total darkness. Our group and the spectators perceived each other more intensely. Music creates a bridge between people and communities. A meeting on the bridge in the darkness at this special concert was a wonderful experience for all of us."
(Karen Şarhon)
Music Albums
  • Los Pasharos Sefaradis, Vol I, Vol II, Vol III, 1987
  • La Romansa de Rika Kuriel, Kantikas Para Syempre, 1988
  • Kantikas Para Syempre CD and cassette, 1995, 2003
  • Zemirot: Turkish-Sefarad Synagog Hymns (Türk-Sefarad Sinagog İlahileri), CD, 2002
  • Las Puertas, CD, 2005
  • Zemirot II, CD, Yako Taragano, Synagogue Hymns Choir, Gözlem Gazetecilik A.Ş., İstanbul 2008,
  • An example from the Los Pasharos Sefaradis archive.
Articles by Karen Şarhon

The Judeo-Spanish Language, Culture and Music Multiculturalism: Identity and Otherness, Boğaziçi University Centre for Comparative European Studies, ed. Nedret Kuran Burçoğlu, Boğaziçi University Press, 1997.

Türk Sefarad Müziği ve Los Pasharos Sefaradis Grubu, İstanbul, S. 45, 4/ 2003.

Judeo-Spanish:  Where We Are, And Where We Are Going, International Sephardic Journal, Volume 1 No. 1, summer 2004.

Las aktividades de la komunita Sefardi Turka para la konservasion del Djudeo-Espanyol, Ladinar Vol IV, Estudios en la literatura, la música y la historia de los sefadíes, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, 2006.

Ladino in Istanbul – Versuch einer Wiederbelebung, (translated by
Gisela Dachs), Jüdischer Almanach, Jüdischer Verlag, Berlin, 2007.

Türkiyenin Zengin Mozaiğinin bir parçası: Ladino ya da Judeo-Espanyol, yani
Nam-ı diğer Yahudice, Kırkbudak, Sonbahar 2007.

Karen Şarhon as editor

(a selection)

Editor of "El Amaneser", Şalom newspaper's monthly supplement in Judeo-Spanish.

Matilda Koen-Sarano, Karen Şarhon (ed.), Kuentos del Bel para Abasho, İstanbul, 2005.

Beki Bardavid & Fani Ender, Karen Şarhon (ed.), "Trezoro Sefardi" İstanbul, 2006.


2011 Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres Medal, French Ministry of Culture



Şişli 19 Mayıs Primary School, Istanbul

The English High School for Girls, İstanbul

Robert College, İstanbul Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Department of English Language and Literature

Boğaziçi University, Social Psychology, M.A.

Reading University,UK, Applied Linguistics, M.A.

Contributions to Society

Family and Friends

Projects in her Honour

Further Reading


Quoted Sources:
Source for Visual Images:

Translation into English: Çetin Alanya, Istanbul, Turkey
Editing: Mary Waegner, Fürth, Bavaria, Germany

©2012 Meral Akkent
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