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The 8th annual Ladino Day at the University of Washington will explore the intersection of Ladino and technology over the last century, and how revolutions in print and on the web have impacted the language over time.

We’ll begin with a multimedia talk by Devin E. Naar, Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies, on the history of the Ladino press in the Ottoman Empire and the United States. Naar will then host virtual conversations with Rachel Amado Bortnick, founder of Ladinokomunita, and Carlos Yebra López, Ph.D., creator of the Ladino module on uTalk, a language learning app.

The program will include a demo of uTalk Ladino led by Yebra López. Throughout the virtual event, audience members can submit questions to be answered by all speakers during a Q&A session at the end of the program.

Please note your time zone if you are tuning in outside of Seattle:
Ladino Day will begin at 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST / 8 p.m. Israel

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About the speakers

Headshot of Rachel Bortnick in a white shirt against a cement background.Rachel Amado Bortnick was born and raised in Izmir, Turkey, and came to the United States in 1958 on a scholarship to Lindenwood College (now University) in St. Charles, Missouri, from which she earned a B.A. in Chemistry. She and American-born architect Bernard Bortnick went back to Izmir to get married and subsequently lived in Holland, in Israel, and several cities in the United States before settling in Dallas, Texas in 1988. Rachel is now retired after teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) for 35 years. Rachel has always been active in the preservation and promotion of Judeo-Spanish language and culture. In the San Francisco Bay area she founded and led the Ladino-speaking club Los Amigos Sefaradis, and was featured in the documentary film, “Trees Cry for Rain: a Sephardic Journey.” In 1999 she founded Ladinokomunita, the Ladino correspondence group on the Internet, which now has nearly 1,500 members worldwide.


Headshot of Carlos Yebra Lopez in a grey suit with leaves in the background.Carlos Yebra López is a Lecturer in Spanish at New York University, and a Research Assistant in Judeo-Spanish at the University of Birmingham, UK. Since 2017, he is the CEO of Ladino 21, a community-based company devoted to the online documentation, preservation and promotion of Ladino in the 21st century. In 2019 he helped create, launch and promote the first-ever Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) course on any online language-learning platform through a partnership with the uTalk app. This course allows people across the globe to learn Ladino from over 150 different languages.


Devin E. Naar is the Isaac Alhadeff Professor in Sephardic Studies, Associate Professor of History, and faculty at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Dr. Naar received his Ph.D. in History at Stanford University and has also served as a Fulbright fellow to Greece. His first book, Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece, was published by Stanford University Press in 2016. The book won the 2016 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Research Based on Archival Material and was named a finalist in Sephardic Culture. It also won the 2017 Edmund Keeley Prize for best book in Modern Greek Studies awarded by the Modern Greek Studies Association.

Supported by the Lucie Benveniste Kavesh Endowed Fund for Sephardic Studies.

Cosponsored by the departments of Linguistics and Spanish & Portuguese Studies, Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, the Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington, Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation, the Seattle Sephardic Network, and the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America.