UW Sephardic Studies Program and the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies presented the Third Annual International Ladino Day on December 6th, 2016. View the full program above and selected clips from the program below, and read on to learn more about about International Ladino Day and 2015’s participants.

In 2013, Yitzhak Navon, the fifth president of Israel and director of the National Authority for Ladino in Jerusalem, endorsed the idea of El Dia Internasional del Ladino — International Ladino Day. Proposed on Ladinokomunita, the largest online correspondence circle in Ladino, Zelda Ovadia of the Ladino magazine Aki Yerushalayimencouraged communities around the world to hold festivities to celebrate the Judeo-Spanish language. She proposed holding the events around the time of Hanukah, for, just as the story of the holiday involves a miracle—oil burning longer than anticipated—so too Ladino continues to endure across the generations despite the often repeated diagnosis that the language is already dead.

For the past two years, here in Seattle, this call was answered loudly and proudly. At the first International Ladino Day in Seattle, in 2013, Ana Mari Cauce, now the president of the University of Washington, announced that both the mayor of Seattle and the governor of Washington State had officially endorsed International Ladino Day. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered together for a fun day of music, proverbs, jokes, and lectures dedicated to the rich literature and history of the Jews of the Ottoman Empire. Ladino Day in 2014 featured even more participants from the community—including elementary and high schoolers—and four hundred attendees. The UW Daily highlighted the program on its front page.

Prof. Sarah Stein of UCLA.

Prof. Sarah Stein of UCLA.

This year, we are excited to announce that guest speakers, Professors Sarah Abrevaya Stein (UCLA, formerly of the UW) and Julia Philips Cohen (Vanderbilt) will share highlights from their wonderful and groundbreaking new book Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950. The recipient of the 2014 National Jewish Book Award for Sephardic Culture, Sephardi Lives offers an unprecedented glimpse into the experiences of Sephardic Jews in the lands of the former Ottoman Empire by highlighting aspects of their religious, political, economic and cultural worlds over more than two centuries.

Prof. Julia Cohen of Vanderbilt University.

Prof. Julia Cohen of Vanderbilt University.

We look forward to a selection of humorous and dramatic readings from this collection of over 150 Sephardic documents to be presented in the original Ladino (and accompanied by English translations) by native Ladino speakers from the local Seattle community, nicknamed Los Ladineros. Professors Stein and Cohen will introduce and contextualize the readings, and will be available afterwards for a book signing.

Last year an undergraduate student at the UW wrote an insightful piece reflecting on the impact that the Ladino Day events made on her. According to Lainie Ferguson the experience “showed her firsthand that there is a huge community that cares about the preservation of Ladino and Sephardic culture.” As we say in Ladino, Ventura para el ke la perkura—“Good fortune comes to he or she who tries.”

This event is hosted by the UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies and the Sephardic Studies Program in cooperation with Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation, the Seattle Sephardic Brotherhood, and the Seattle Sephardic Network.

Biva la lingua de Ladino!

Third Annual International Ladino Day Community Celebration
December 6th at 4 p.m.
Kane Hall 130, University of Washington Seattle Campus

This event is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, please visit this event page.

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