Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Gloria Yousha
Scene around 

Scene Around


Dr. Eliezer Papo

A dying language?...

Gee, I hope not! This is an article about preserving and sharing Ladino and Sephardic culture. (Married for more than half-century to a Sephardic Jew, this article, directly from the Impact magazine of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, really caught my interest). I pass it on in part:

"According to Dr. ELIEZER PAPO, 'The Ladino language is dying but losing the language doesn't mean you should lose the entire cultural package. That's where the Ladino Center comes in.' He continues, 'We don't believe the two destinies are necessarily connected. We're trying to make the Ladino culture relevant to young Israelis and also part of the general Israeli heritage.'

Dr. Papo (see photo) is deputy director of the Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture, established by Ben-Gurion University nine years ago.

Ladino-Spanish with some Hebrew and Aramaic is the language used by Spain's Jews before they were expelled in 1492.

(Which brings to mind the ditty I sang as a child... "In 1492, Columbus was a Jew... " I wonder if that was a fact... I must check it out!)

The Center teaches the language as well as Ladino literature, folklore and traditions.

The idea for the Gaon Center was originally met with skepticism, Papo recalls. 'Some people thought it was part of the past; no one's interested; young Israelis won't give a dime for Sephardic culture... not too many would go even for medieval Spanish Hebrew poetry, but Judeo-Spanish? You must be kidding. But once you show them the richness of the culture, it speaks for itself.'

Between 50 and 60 students routinely sign up for the beginning Ladino language courses. Each class draws 10 to 15 Bedouin students, others are Jewish, many with Ashkenazi or Oriental backgrounds, and only a handful have any Sephardic roots. Nearly all of the students become interested in the culture and stay on for advanced language training.

The mission, however, is not to create fluent speakers of Ladino, also called Judeo-Spanish. 'We're not trying to reverse the historical process, Papo explains. 'We want them to become cultural mediators.'

He points out that many aspects of our collective human heritage survive because they are translated from one culture to another. For example, ancient Greek culture ended, but most Greek intellectual wealth was translated into Arabic, and was then developed in the Islamic world. Later, the entire body of Greco-Arabic knowledge was translated into Latin and moved to the west.

'We need to translate Ladino texts into Hebrew, with critical explanation of concepts, so these otherwise forgotten words will become accessible to Israel's general public,' Papo says. Similarly to the Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazim, Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain took their language with them and it sustained their culture wherever they settled. However, much of the heritage was lost during the Holocaust. Huge Ladino speaking communities were decimated. In countries like Greece, Serbia and Bosnia, 90 percent of the Sephardic Jewish population was killed. Turkish and Bulgarian communities survived by migrating to Israel, where they had to adopt Hebrew and forsake Judeo-Spanish."

I'm always ready for a super day...

I received a flyer recently from Congregation Ohev Shalom's Seniors asking if I was ready for a super day. YES, ALWAYS!

The COS Seniors invite the entire congregation and community to a program on Sunday, February 2nd that will be just that... SUPER!

Featured will be Rabbi DAVID KAY and Cantor ALLAN ROBUCK.

They are both superb musical talents who really don't need a long list of accomplishments to prove it.

The program starts with their musical presentation at 2 p.m. sharp and is followed, as usual, by refreshments.

No reservations are needed and the cost is still only $5 for COS Seniors; $8 for all others. (Such a bargain!)

The merriment takes place at Congregation Ohev Shalom, 613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland.

For information or directions, phone BERNY RAFF at 407-767-6763.

(I marked it down in my calendar book and I hope to see you there.)

Just happened to be tuned in...

Often I watch MSNBC on television and once and awhile I am delighted to see my friend, and a member of our Jewish community, Congressman ALAN GRAYSON, on as a guest.

Last week he appeared on the show titled "All In With Chris Hayes."

The topic of conversation? Political corruption.

(Oy vay!)

How I got over my heartburn?...

(Of course the topic "Political corruption" would give anybody heartburn, but I just remembered (and decided to remind you too) that super-talented musician, TERRY MYERS, and his equally talented group, will be making great music on Sunday, January 26TH at the Altamonte Chapel, 825 East State Road 436, Altamonte Springs. 407-339-5208.

Our own super-talent, ALAN ROCK, will emcee the jazz fest.

(Professional musicians and vocalists are welcome to "sit in" 2nd set.)

Talk about uplifting and positive people...

While phoning the Jewish Community Center for some information recently, I had the good fortune of getting SUZANNE DUNN on the phone.

Suzanne is Welcome Center Supervisor at the JCC and welcome me she did.

I felt like I was her long lost relative and she was simply delighted to help me. She deserves a shout-out!

And while I'm "shouting out" about good people, I want to mention a very special lady, indeed! Her name is LISA VALENTINE-HEARLD.

She works at Deals #04879 on Aloma Avenue, Winter Park.

Lisa always greets me with a big "Hello" and I know she is really happy to see me... which makes me doubly happy to be there!

You know I love animals...

I received this notice in the mail the other day titled "How You Can Help Save The Animals:"

Pledge not to buy items made with or from wild animal parts, not to purchase live wild animals as pets or for any other purpose, and not to visit facilities that keep animals captive under inhumane conditions.

End animal testing by looking for toiletries that are not tested on animals.

Protect street dogs and do not go to restaurants that serve dog meat.

And for more information on how you can help animals, go online to .

Thank you for caring as I do.

One for the road...

A Jewish girl brings her fiancé home to meet her parents.

Her father takes the young man aside to speak with him and find out about him.

"So, tell me," asks the father, "what do you do for a living?"

"I am a Torah scholar," the young man replies.

"A Torah scholar," the father says, "wonderful, but what are your plans?"

"I will be a Torah scholar," answers the young man.

"And tell me," asks the father, "how will you provide for my daughter?"

"I will study the Torah," the young man replied, "and God will provide for us."

"Yes, and how will you provide for my grandchildren if and when they come along?"

"I will study the Torah," the young man replied, "and God will provide for us."

Later, the girl's mother asks, "So nu? How did it go?"

"Well," said the father, "the bad news is he has no visible means of support, but the good news is he thinks I'm God!"


Reader Comments

GAZ writes:

Nice to hear about lovely people who make a difference. Please keep Lisa Valentine Hearld and her husband in your prayers. He is battling cancer and was told there is no more that can be done for him...a sad and grave diagnosis.


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