21 December, 1923 – 29 January, 2021
Beloved “Nona” Flory Jagoda, 97, died peacefully on January 29, 2021 at Silverado Alexandria Memory Care Community. Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1923 Flory Papo Kabilio Jagoda is known as The Keeper of The Flame for her commitment to continuing the rich musical heritage and Sephardic traditions in memory of her adored Altaras Family who were killed in Vlasenica, Bosnia during WWII. Flory, a remarkable singer, creative songwriter, mesmerizing performer and totally engaging storyteller was honored by countless organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the VA Foundation for the Humanities and was the proud recipient of a US Immigrant Achievement Award. A video interview at the US Holocaust Museum, 2 documentaries (The Key From Spain, Flory’s Flame); a children’s book, The Key From Spain and 5 CD recordings vividly retell her experience during WWII and the music that informed her extraordinary life.
As a refugee in Bari, Italy, Flory fell in love with and married “BTO” Master Sargent Harry Jagoda in June 1945 and came to America, the country she loved for the rest of her life, in 1946. She dedicated herself to raising an American family and celebrated 4th of July (and most other holidays, and “just for the fun of it”) with huge parties where everyone was welcome and guests came with musical instruments, folksongs and folk dancing. While her 4 children were growing up, Flory was a painter, as well as a teacher (guitar, accordion, and piano) and the house was always filled with the aromas of delicious beautifully presented food and all kinds of music – international, American folk music, Rock’n Roll, Bosnian Sevdalinkas and Sephardic songs. Acclaimed the world over for her Hanuka composition, Ocho Kandelikas, Flory became a featured concert performer and lecturer of Sephardic music as a soloist, with her children and with other musical colleagues. Nona Flory was a founder of the Jewish Folk Arts Society and Las Vijitas de Alhad, a monthly gathering of descendants of Sephardic Jews of the Old Ottoman Empire interested in speaking Ladino and preserving its traditions. Her life’s work was “to continue” and have the world know the emotional beauty of the music and knowledge she learned from her own Nona and to preserve the Sephardic culture she so loved.
Flory is predeceased by her dear Harry, her husband of 69 years and their son, Elliot, both of whom died in 2014. She will be remembered forever by all those who knew her but especially by her daughters, Betty Jagoda Murphy (Greg Murphy), Lori Jagoda Lowell (Jeremy Lowell), son Andy Jagoda (Silvana Riggio), cousin, Berta Altaras Silverstein (Barry Silverstein) and daughter-in-law, Evie Jagoda. Nona will be held firmly in the hearts of her adored grandchildren: Josh Murphy (Meghan Murphy), Ian Lowell (Alysia Lowell), Ariel Lowell and Alec Lowell (fiancé Sasha), Aaron Jagoda (Justinn Jagoda) and Nathan Jagoda and stories about Nona Flory will keep her memory vibrant for her great grandchildren: Liam and Flory Murphy, Cooper Lowell and Ellis Jagoda. All the members of her Jagoda Family, nieces and nephews, as well as her musical colleagues, Susan Gaeta, Aviva Chernik and Howard Bass foremost among them, will honor her memory every time they sing one of her songs or recount a story about Nona Flory.
There is so much more to say about this extraordinary treasure of a woman who faced the world with determination and serenity and responded to all of life’s questions with music and her whole heart… kun Salud I Byena Vida.
A Zoom Funeral Service and Shiva Minyans will be announced. Donations in Flory’s honor can be made to Flory Jagoda Sephardic Music Fund Virginia Humanities 145 Ednam Drive Charlottesville, VA 22903 Or via the internet link: https://virginiafolklife.org/give/flory-jagoda-sephardic-music-fund/
Services will be help at National Funeral Home and King David Memorial Gardens on Monday February 1, 2021 at 11AM, burial following immediately.
The service will be livestreamed on our facebook page:
Monday, 1 February , 2021
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13 February 2021
The THIS Italian Cultural Exchange group shared many wonderful moments with Flory over many years. When she hosted our meetings at her home she often regaled us with her music, playing either her guitar or accordion with equal skill. Her composition "Oco Kandelikas" was a much loved carol which we always sang at our Christmas meeting, which coincided with the Hanuka festivities. We were also a "lunch bunch" which consisted of a number of the founding members of THIS who had bonded over their love of Italy. Flory loved Italy and spoke excellent Italian. She was so modest and self-effacing that I only learned indirectly how famous and talented she was. As a friend remarked "she was easy to love". I shall miss her very much but she will always be remembered in her music.
10 February 2021
Flory enriched my life and that of so many others. We had many great times together at THIS. She was a gracious hostess and a charming entertainer. May God comfort her family .
10 February 2021
You and your music will be missed, Scoti and THIS for Diplomats
8 February 2021
Enjoyed many art and music programs at T.H.I.S. with Flory. She was a lovely person and a joy to be around. You have a great many wonderful memories. Sharon Spilhaus
8 February 2021
Rest In Peace beautiful lady.
5 February 2021
Our family was fortunate to find The Key from Spain in our local Little Free Library this past year. Our 4 year old son loves getting PJ Library books normally but this one became very special to him when we also showed him videos of Flory singing. Just tonight he requested to read it before bed and listen to her sing. When I searched her name and saw that she died just a week ago I felt compelled to acknowledge the importance of her life and the joy her story and music has brought to others. Thank you Flory! May your memory be for a blessing.
1 February 2021
I had the great pleasure to see and hear Flory Jagoda and her family at a performance at MIT in the 80's and instantly fell in love with her music. Her lyrics told wonderful stories.
May her memory be a blessing to the living. I will carry my memories of that one performance with me forever.
1 February 2021
Flory will forever in my memory, her songs, her beauty and her sweet personality. I have followed and admired her and the history of her family for many years. I mourn with the family because Flory was everyone's NONA.
31 January 2021
Years ago I was lucky enough--as a member of the DC-based Spanish Dance Society--to appear in a program or two that featured the extraordinary Flory Jagoda as guest artist. I'd never heard the Ladino language, or the songs she sang, before, but I was immediately transfixed and greatly moved, by the music and, especially, the musician.
While I didn't get to know Flory well and moved away from the Washington area thirty years ago I will always remember her warmth, humanity, and--of course--her artistry. I knew she'd had a challenging early life but, until reading this obituary, was not aware of how truly difficult it was. This simply underscores the exceptional aspects of what she accomplished--including helping to create a large, and very lucky, family of relatives, and myriad friends.
My condolences to you all.
Nancy G. Heller (Philadelphia, PA)