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Yechiel Nahari


Yechiel Nahari was born in Jerusalem to second-generation parents of Yemenite and Syrian Decent. Nahari's Father was a gifted mural artist, painting synagogues in Jerusalem, and his mother was a skilled tailor. He attended the Horev School, a private religious school for boys. From the age of 4, his father would take him and his brother , Tzvi, to the synagogue at three am every Shabbat for four hours of singing before the service. This was called "Backashote", a traditional Yemenite style where two groups of boys would sing counterpoint. It was from this Backshote that he made his first television appearance at the age of eight.

His father was a music lover and noticed that at a young age Nahari would repeat during the week the songs from the early Shabbat mornings. His father then took him all over the country to meet the great cantors, Sephardi and Ashkenzi, and to hear them all sing. Every day after school he would go to his grandfather's, a rabbi and Cantor, for cantorial studies. He spent hours each day listening to classic Arabic music given to him by his father. His other early recordings, also at age eight, were readings from the Torah that were broadcast on the radio just before the start of the Shabbath. As a member of the choir, he also began his public appearances at this time.

A cantor visiting from the United States heard one of the radio recordings, and three concerts were arranged in Brooklyn, with Nahari and the famous cantor Joe Amar. Nahari was 13 at the time, and this was the start of his Cantorial career. From thirteen to sixteen he served in the Great Sephardic Synagogue in the Old City. At sixteen he moved tot he States to finish his religious studies at Nier Israel Rabbinical College. During this time the Syrian Sephardic Congregation of Deal, New Jersey, asked him to serve as cantor. He served there for two years before returning to Israel at the age of eighteen for three years of military service.

At twenty-two Nahari married and moved to London, taking a position at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of London, were he stayed for three years. In 1985, one of the largest Sephardic communities in the United States, Shar L'Zion, asked him to serve as cantor. While in the States he also served as cantor in the Syrian congregation of B'Nai Isaac.

Since 1990, Nahari has traveled extensively, brining his music to Sephardic communities across the globe: Brazil, Morocco, Paris, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Argentina and London. He continues to have concerts and sing regularly in Israel, the United States and worldwide.

His love for the music, unmatched talent and knowledge of the classical Middle Eastern Tradition come together to inspire his listeners all over the world.

Sources: Israel Music