Maureen Nehedar is a vocal artist, composer and paytanit (singer of Jewish liturgical poetry), a poet and researcher of Jewish musical traditions in general and the Jewish Persian tradition in particular. She is a pioneer of the world music scene in Israel and a global leader in the renewal of Jewish music. She has revived the Judeo-Persian poetic and liturgical tradition and saved it from oblivion.

Maureen Nehedar is the recipient of the 2023 Uri Orbach Prize for Jewish Music and Culture in Israel.Maureen was recognised in Israel for her musical, cultural and piyyut activities by the Libi Bamizrah organisation in 2022 and received a prize from Neve Schechter and the Rabinowitz Foundation for original Israeli works in 2019. She was also selected as one of the 50 most influential women in Israel. Maureen has released four albums that have had great success and received critical acclaim. This has made her one of the most talented and important singers and creators of Israeli music.

Maureen was born in Isfahan, Iran, and immigrated to Israel with her family when she was a baby, following the Islamic Revolution and the Khomeini takeover. In her youth, she joined the Ankor Children’s Choir (aged 10 to 18), with whom she performed in children’s and youth choir competitions around the world. She was already recognised as a child prodigy and known for her impressive vocal abilities. She studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and completed her high school education there. She then earned two degrees at the Academy in singing and composition, music education and choral conducting, as well as a teaching diploma.

Nehedar is the only paytanit in the world to perform traditional Judeo-Persian songs and piyyutim. She aims to preserve this fast-disappearing tradition by composing her own melodies based on the ancient Persian dastgah, the standard system of Persian art music, to piyyutim and other texts from Jewish sources. These melodies are part of their performances, along with Persian folk piyyutim in new arrangements adapted to modern ears, allowing contemporary audiences to appreciate their beauty.