International Ladino Day

Collage of posters of previous International Ladino Day

Since its inception in 2013, International Ladino Day at the University of Washington has become a hallmark of campus programming where more than 300 community members, students, faculty, and scholars come together to discuss the past, present, and future of Ladino. Learn about past Ladino Day celebrations >

Why celebrate International Ladino Day?

In the last 100 years, the number of native Ladino speakers has declined rapidly, and no future generations of native-born Ladino-speakers will be born anywhere in the world. Due to demographic displacement, the destruction wrought by the Holocaust, and the pressures of assimilation, the cultural heritage of Sephardic Jews is gravely imperiled; UNESCO has designated Ladino an “endangered language.”

As the last generation of native Ladino speakers leaves us, and the present generations no longer have immediate access to their linguistic heritage, we face a major turning point and a choice: relegate to oblivion the language and the world it represents, or make a concerted effort to preserve and disseminate that legacy for future generations. Through International Ladino Day, the Sephardic Studies Program opts for the latter path.

Past Ladino Day programs at the University of Washington have included lectures from national and international scholars of Sephardic Studies and the Ladino language; performances by professional musicians and Seattle-area hazzanim (cantors); film screenings; sharing refranes, or Ladino sayings; and involvement from participants young and old. A group of the last generation of native Ladino speakers, the Ladineros, always engage the audience by telling stories or singing songs in Ladino. In honor of the first Ladino Day both the mayor of Seattle and the governor of Washington State issued public declarations in support of the initiative.

Biva la lingua de Ladino!       View all past Ladino Day programs >

Past Programs

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Ladino Day 2020

Devin Naar discusses the future of Ladino language learning with two experts, Rachel Amado Bortnick and Carlos Yebra López, and a new oral history project connects UW graduate students with Ladino speakers in Seattle.