Salud i Vida: Celebrating Ladino
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: Which Israeli politician was instrumental in creating International Ladino Day?
The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) is the official institution responsible for overseeing the Spanish language. In 1951 the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (ASALE) was created, incorporating the 23 Academies of Spain, the Americas, the Philippines and Equatorial Guinea. In recent years, elements of the varieties of Spanish that are spoken in these countries have been incorporated into the official dictionary. In 2018 an academy of Judeo-Spanish, also known as Ladino, was created. Headquartered in Israel, it would become the 24th member of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language. (You can listen to the program we did about it at that time here.)
Ladino is a bridge to many cultures. It is a variety of Spanish that has absorbed words from Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, French, Greek, and Portuguese. The mother tongue of Jews in the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, Ladino became the home language of Sephardim worldwide.
Since 2013, International Ladino Day programs have been held around the world to honor the Ladino language. Celebrations have been held in Jerusalem, New York, Seattle, Istanbul, Madrid, Boston, and other cities.
January 30th marks New York’s 5th Annual Ladino Day, organized by the American Sephardi Federation. This year’s celebration will be dedicated to Lena Russo (A”H), one of the last of 35 Holocaust survivors from Kastoria, Greece, where the pre-war community had numbered 1,000 Jews. A special feature of this year’s program will be a panel including nonagenarians Suzanne de Toledo Camhi Reissman, Stanley Habib and Regina Amira, who grew up speaking Ladino at home.
This week we are speaking with Jason Guberman, the Executive Director of ASF, about Ladino and this year’s celebration.
More links of interest:
Ladinokomunita (Ladino Preservation Council)