The Arty Semite

A Passover Nightmare

By Sammy Loren

  • Print
  • Share Share
Alexis Rimbaud

It’s Passover time, and a heady mix of liberation, freedom and matzah fills the air. While we recount the tale of the Children of Israel’s escape from Egypt, a strange inversion of this story unfolds in France. In this nightmare exodus, the Israelite (a non-Jewish klezmer clarinetist) flees Egypt (Moldova) and makes it to the Promised Land (France), only to face expulsion a decade later.

Adrian Receanu, a fixture in the Paris klezmer, Gypsy, Jazz, and classical scenes, received an unpleasant letter from the Paris Police Prefecture on March 11, 2010. The Orwellian — Un avis d’expulsion du territoire français — requires the recipient leave France within one month.

“The French state doesn’t want me,” lamented Receanu in a telephone interview. “I’m one of the 30,000 immigrants who are being expelled,” he said, referring to the Sarkozy administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

Only Receanu is not illegal.

Arriving legally in Paris in 2000 to study music on a student visa, he quickly made a name for himself in the burgeoning Eastern European music scene.

“At first I played parties and weddings. Then I moved up to the Russian restaurants,” he remembers. Now he plays with some of the heavyweights in Europe’s traditional music world, including Alan Bern’s klezmer-Lautari ensemble, The Other Europeans Band.

Receanu later married and divorced a French woman. It was while attempting to switch his visa status that he received the expulsion notice.

“My lawyer is confident of my chances of staying,” he said wearily.

Fortunately, friends and fans have come to his aide: a Facebook group formed, a petition circulated, and a benefit concert organized.

“Our goal is also to show that Adrian has a real life here in Paris — friends, fans, supporters and all of the well-known artists that he works with,” said Elie Petit, treasurer of the Union of French Jewish Students, in a blogpost about the concert and Adrian’s situation.

It’s exactly that type of support that Receanu hopes will give his dossier the necessary push to keep him in the Promised Land.

“My friends are in France, my life is in France, and my future is in France,” he said.

Watch Receanu play klezmer in his own quartet:

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yiddish Music, Yiddish, The Other Europeans, Sammy Loren, Passover, Nicolas Sarkozy, Music, Immigration, Klezmer, France, Alan Bern, Adrian Receanu

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight":
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here:
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.