Ladino collage

The Sephardic Studies Program and the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies are excited to offer Ladino Language and Culture for the first time this summer at the University of Washington! In this class, students will:

  • Acquire basic reading and writing skills in Ladino.
  • Master the basics of Modern Ladino vocabulary, grammar and syntax.
  • Read and translate simple folkloric and literary texts in modern Ladino, including songs, proverbs, short stories and plays, and newspaper articles, both in Hebrew characters as well as in Romanization.
  • Gain insights into the historical, linguistic, and social-cultural factors that influenced the development of Modern Ladino.
  • Participate in the only university-level Ladino language course in the United States!

Those interested in Jewish Studies; Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; Middle East Studies; Spanish and other Romance languages; linguistics; culture; literature; history; and many other subjects and disciplines — especially the intersections of these subjects — will find this course of great interest.

Course details

  • Offered remotely both A-term (June 22 – July 22, 2020) and B-term (July 23 – Aug 21, 2020). All course content will be available online.
  • Offered as JEW ST 215, 5 credits I&S
  • Meets MTWTh from 10:00 am – 12:10 pm, with synchronous meetings via Zoom. Please note the new time!
  • Offered jointly with LING 372: Language & Translation (5 credits) and SPAN 294: Special Topics in Spanish Literary/Cultural Studies (5 credits)
  • Open to current UW students, visiting undergraduate and graduate students, adults and professionals, faculty and postdoctoral fellows, international students, and U.S. high school students.
  • May not be repeated for credit.
  • No prerequisites.
  • For detailed tuition rates, click here. Be sure to scroll down on this page for scholarship opportunities!
  • Register here. If you are a non-UW student, click here for detailed registration instructions.

David BunisAbout the instructor: David Bunis

David Bunis is the chair of Ladino Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was a visiting professor at the University of Washington in 2013-2014. He is the world’s leading authority in the field of Ladino linguistics and one of most notable instructors of the language in the world. Professor Bunis received his PhD in Linguistics from Columbia University and has published extensively on Ladino, including in the fields of sociocultural linguistics, language and politics, and translation studies, including the translations of important Ladino texts from the 16th to 20th centuries. He has also authored a highly regarded Ladino language textbook and is an expert in soletreo, the traditional Sephardic Hebrew cursive script.

Al vermos en la klasa de Ladino ~ We look forward to seeing you in Ladino class!


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ladino?

Ladino, also known as Judeo-Spanish or Judezmo, is the language of Sephardic Jews who originated from the Iberian Peninsula (what is now Spain and Portugal). Following their expulsion from Spain in 1492, Sephardic Jews, or Sepharadim, sought refuge across the Mediterranean and the Middle East and beyond, primarily in the Ottoman Empire — where they developed the Ladino language. While based in Spanish and other Iberian languages, with a strong Hebrew-Aramaic component, Ladino incorporated many elements from the languages of the Mediterranean world, including Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, and Arabic.

Between the 16th and 20th centuries, Sephardic Jews produced an estimated 4,000 published books in Ladino and also created a vibrant newspaper culture throughout the Ottoman Empire and the United States. It was a language for all occasions: of the home, the street, the marketplace, and the synagogue; for humor and satire, politics and literature.

Given the public health situation, will the course still be offered?

Yes! Due to restricted travel from Israel (where our instructor is based), both sessions will be offered remotely with synchronous Zoom meetings, and all course materials will be made available online.

I don’t know any of the languages contained in Ladino. Can I still take this class?

Yes! While both courses are geared toward beginners, those with minimal language background should try to opt for the B-term course. 

I’m a visiting student. How do I register?

Please click here for detailed registration instructions for visiting students.

Is this course open to ACCESS students?

Yes. For more information on the UW’s ACCESS program, click here.

When can ACCESS students register?

Registration Start Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Registration Deadline: Wednesday, July 8, 2020 [Including registration for Summer B Term]
Registration Payment Deadline: Friday, July 10, 2020

Please click here for more information on registering as an ACCESS student.

Why is learning Ladino important?

In short, learning Ladino means understanding Sephardic Jews in their own terms and gaining unique access to the intersections of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures and languages of the Mediterranean world over the past half-millenium.

Learning Ladino at the University of Washington is particularly special because of the Sephardic Studies Digital Collection, which contains 140,000 pages of digitized Ladino material waiting to be studied by students like you!

For more insights into the joys of learning Ladino, check out the following testimonials:

Who can I contact for more information?

Please contact Makena Mezistrano, Sephardic Studies Program Assistant Director: makflo@uw.edu

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Note: The opinions expressed by faculty and students in our publications reflect the views of the individual writer only and not those of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.