Thursday, October 11, 2007

El Ladino

The audience at "Sephardic Jews and Ladino," a conference held yesterday at Jerusalem's Mishkenot Sha'ananim, was no less interesting than the academics and distinguished figures on the dais. There was a descendant of Abraham Senior, who as everyone familiar with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain knows was the rabbi who gave in to pressure from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and converted to Christianity. Senior's Jerusalem progeny is, of course, a completely observant Jew, bubbling with good cheer, who called out Ladino proverbs from his seat in the front row. The great granddaughter of Eliezer Benveniste was there, too, in a back row. Benveniste Sr. was a publisher, one of the first to issue books in Ladino in the late 19th century. There was also a man who worked on a Ladino crossword puzzle, surrounded by rabbis who had attended so many lectures on the language that they recited, like children, the dates and names and songs and sayings together with the speakers. (more from Haaretz)

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