Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | December 1, 2008

Sephardic Jews From Spain and Their Language Ladino, by Professor Bernice J. Mitchell

mitchellIn the Fall, 2006, issue of Lingua Franca, I wrote an article entitled “Ladino: Another Version of Spanish. Recently, at a a lecture I attended by Dr. Gloria Ascher of Tufts University, who began teaching a Ladino course in 2000, I had the privilege of meeting her and a gentleman, Mr. Carlos Becerra, of Ecuador. Mr. Becerra is Sephardic and a speaker of Ladino and he was Vice President of the Sephardic Federation of Palm Beach County (2005-2006). He has also taught a 20 hour course about the Sephardim at local synagogues in Massachusetts as well as in Florida.

I ended up inviting Mr. Becerra to speak to my SPN 416 class and other guests a few weeks later about where the Jews went when they were expelled from Spain in 1492. The topics he covered in his presentation were: The Origin of the Sephardim, Jews in Roman and Visigoth Spain, the Invasion of the Moors, the Golden Age of Córdoba, the illustrious Jews of Moslem Spain, the Reconquest, the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion in 1492, the Sephardim diaspora, the Ottoman Empire, the Sephardim in the Americas and in modern times, along with their culture and traditions. He and his wife, María Becerra, sang  to the group in Ladino with both the Spanish and English translations. It is worth noting that in all the courses we teach, the discussion of the Spanish Jews ends with their expulsion from Spain. However, Mr. Becerra told us where they went and how they maintained the medieval Spanish language, Ladino, and their religious traditions. ¦

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