Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad. Through her multi-media song, story and slide programs, she shares her rare and intimate knowledge of this ancient community's history, customs and melodies with audiences at synagogues, schools, libraries, women's groups and cultural events.
Ms. Musleah is an award-winning journalist with hundreds of published articles to her credit. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Family Circle, Publishers Weekly, Hadassah, Reform Judaism, Jewish Woman, Naamat Woman and numerous other Jewish journals.
Her latest book, Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah (Lerner/Kar-Ben, July 2004), introduces the Sephardic custom of blessing the Jewish new year with symbolic foods. Her haggadah, Why On This Night? A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration (Simon & Schuster), has been received with critical acclaim. She is the co-author, with Rabbi Michael Klayman, of Sharing Blessings: Children's Stories for Exploring the Spirit of the Jewish Holidays (Jewish Lights), and the author of Journey of a Lifetime: The Jewish Life Cycle Book (Behrman House).
Her CD, Hodu: Jewish Rhythms from Baghdad to India, features ancient texts, authentic melodies and contemporary rhythms. (“Hodu”, in Hebrew, means both “India” and “Praise God!”) Her songbook, B'Kol Arev: Songs of the Jews of Calcutta, compiled more than 50 songs for Shabbat, holidays and special occasions (Tara Publications); an accompanying cassette featured 18 selections.
Her writing, songs and recipes—compiled on her website, www.rahelsjewishindia.com—have also been or will be included in several anthologies: In Women's Hands (Rutgers); Jewish Food: The World at Table (HarperCollins); The Kids' Catalog of Hanukkah (JPS); Words of Song: A Curriculum for the Study of Synagogue Music (ACC/UAHC); R'fuah Sh'lemah: Songs of Jewish Healing (Synagogue 2000); Jewish Family & Life (Golden Books), and Beyond Scandal: The Parents' Guide to Sex, Lies and Leadership (www.jflbooks.com). She has received several grants for her work and was part of the New York Council for the Humanities' Speakers in the Humanities 2000-2002.
Ms. Musleah is a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She is a member of the Authors' Guild; the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Jewish Press Association. She sings with the Zamir Chorale and Shirah, the Jewish Community Chorus of the JCC on the Palisades, in Tenafly, NJ, both under the direction of Matthew Lazar. She has received awards for her writing from the American Jewish Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Sephardi Literary Contest, the Society of National Association Publications, and the General Federation of Women's Clubs.
Ms. Musleah hopes to pass down the legacy of the Indian Jewish community to her two daughters, Shira and Shoshana. She lives in Great Neck, NY.