The secret is out: the UW Sephardic Studies Program has collected some spectacular treasures for its Digital Library & Museum. One of the treasures will appear this March in a new PBS documentary called The Jewish Journey: America.
The hour-long film, directed by Emmy winner Andrew Goldberg, traces Jewish immigration to America over five centuries. PBS press materials describe it as “a rarely explored look at the actual journeys to get here,” using the perspectives of immigrants, historians, and Jewish-American writers. The particpants include Seattle native Rabbi Marc Angel, whose ancestors arrived in the United States from the island of Rhodes.
To portray a piece of the Sephardic Jewish immigration story, The Jewish Journey‘s producers reached out to Prof. Devin Naar, chair of the Sephardic Studies Program. They were interested particularly in obtaining an image from the Leon Behar notebook, featured on the Stroum Center website last year in articles by Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano (Learning Ladino: A Language I Already Knew) and Hannah Pressman (A Soldier’s Ladino Poems of Ottoman Jewish Pride).
Behar came to Seattle from Turkey in the early 20th century. His notebook, filled with patriotic poems in the Ottoman and Ladino languages, has been generously loaned to the Sephardic Studies Digital Library and Museum by Behar’s daughter Josie Agoado and local descendants. Aguirre-Mandujano, a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, has undertaken the challenging project of translating and interpreting Behar’s poetry, with support from the Jewish Studies Graduate Fellowship.