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Spector, Johanna


SPECTOR, JOHANNA (1920– ), U.S. ethno-musicologist, filmmaker, and educator. Johanna Spector was born and grew up in Latvia where her husband, Robert Spector, was killed by the Nazis in 1941. She spent the war years in concentration camps. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1947. She received her doctorate in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati, 1950) and obtained a master's degree in anthropology from Columbia University in 1960. She was a research fellow at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem (1951–53) and until 1957 she spent half the year in Israel, undertaking fieldwork on the Yemenite, Kurdish, and Samaritan communities. In 1954 she joined the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, and founded its department of ethno-musicology in 1962, becoming associate professor in 1966 and full professor in 1970. In the course of her research in Jewish music, she made an extensive collection of recordings. Her personal archive of 11,000 tape recordings includes Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Samaritan, Yemenite, and Indian (Cochin and Bombay) music of Jewish communities. They are accompanied by thousands of photographs, and later films from which she made documentaries, particularly on the Yemenites and Samaritans; she published several studies on them. A large part of her collection is at the National Archives of the Hebrew University. She helped to found the Society for the Preservation of Samaritan Culture and the Friends of the Samaritan Museum in 1968, with the object of establishing a museum at Shechem (Nablus).

[Amnon Shiloah (2nd ed.)]

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