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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - February 5, 2001

Week of February 5 Issue

***Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus Discussion List
Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur,***

Table of Contents:

1. Call for Papers: Sephardic/Mizrahi Rabbis in Israel, 1948-1967: Intellectual Creativity and Socio-Religious Leadership (Zohar)

2. Sephardic Studies Call for Papers: 2001 MLA Convention (Zemke)

3. Announcement from IVRI-NASAWI and Upcoming Events (Elgrably)

4. Orientalism and the Jews: Symposium, May 6-8 (Kalmar)

5. Introduction of Mark Cohen to the List (Cohen)

6. Introduction of Andrea Zanardo to the List (Zanardo)

7. Introduction of Harvey Sukenic to the List (Sukenic)

8. Query: Sephardic Ballads (Nelson)

9. Query: Purchasing Sephardic Videos (Ben-Ur)
1. Call for Papers: Sephardic/Mizrahi Rabbis in Israel, 1948-1967: Intellectual Creativity and Socio-Religious Leadership (Zohar)

From: Zvi Zohar <>
Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2001 12:10 AM

Call For Papers
The intellectual and spiritual culture of the religious elite of Sephardic/Oriental Jewry in Israel’s formative years is virtually a closed book, from the perspective of academic research. To initiate a change of the tide with regard to this virtually unknown realm, we have decided to call an international research conference, entitled:
Sephardic/Mizrahi rabbis in Israel, 1948-1967: Intellectual Creativity and Socio-Religious Leadership
The conference is sponsered by The Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Contemporary Jewry, Bar Ilan University; The Institute for Research on Zionism, Tel Aviv University; and The Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. The conference is called for the 1st and 2nd of January, 2002. Topics should be submitted to the undersigned by July 31, 2001. We look forward to your participation in this ground-breaking conference. Please feel free to contact us for any further information, explication or assistence. Sincerely,
Dr. Shalom Ratzabi                                    Dr. Zvi Zohar
Tel-Aviv University &                        Bar Ilan University &
Open University of Israel                        Shalom Hartman Institute              
Suggested foci for research include, inter alia:
Israeli Realities -- the responses and attitudes of this rabbinical elite towards issues such as: Contemporary religious and cultural trends; The securalism of ‘mainstream’ Israeli society; The ‘ingathering of exiles’; Democracy and political institutions; The Israeli legal system; The status and role of women ; Social justice, social inequalities; Non-Jewish minorities in Israel; Education ; Ultra-Orthodoxy (haredim) and Haredi life and institutions. Religious Zionism and Religious-Zionist life and institutions; Preservation of ethnic-religious variety vrs. religious unification; Security matters and Army service.
Halakha, Kabbala and Jewish Thought – including issues such as:
Kabbalic thought and writings; Halakhic thought and writings; Attitudes towards folk beliefs and practices; Theology and religious thought; The value and significance of ‘general’ culture; Religious validation of (and/or: rejection of) Israel’s existence.
To facilitate the initiation of research in this uncharted field, we have compiled a preliminary partial list of relevant hahamim: Chief rabbi BenZion Uziel; Chief rabbi Yitzhak Nissim; Rabbi Ovadiah Hedaya; Rabbi Eliyahu Pardes; Rabbi Yitzhak AbiHatseirah; Rabbi Joseph Kappah; Rabbi Ezra Batzri; Rabbi Nissim Binyamin Ohana; Rabbi ‘Amram AbuRabi’a; Rabbi David Shlush; Rabbi BenZion Abba Shaul; Rabbi Moshe Malka; Rabbi Matzliah Mazuz; Rabbi Moshe HaCohen; Rabbi Ezra ‘Atiyya; Rabbi Mishael Dahan; Rabbi Shaul AbenDanan; Rabbi Rahamim Hai Hawitah HaCohen; Rabbi Tzedaka Hutzin; Rabbi Hayyim David HaLevi; Rabbi Ovadiah Joseph; Rabbi Aharon Shweika; et. al.
2. Sephardic Studies Call for Papers: 2001 MLA Convention (Zemke)

From: John Zemke Zemke
Date: 18 January 2001 (by snail)

Sephardic Scribes and Manuscripts, Printers and Presses, Bookmen and Readers.

Papers addressing commercial, sociological, ideological, and other aspects of the production, distribution, and commerce in Sephardic manuscripts and/or books, holy as well as secular.

One-page abstract, brief bibliography, and vitae by March 16, 2001. Only postmakred submissions will be accepted. Papers may be in English, Portuguese and/or Spanish.

John Zemke
Romance Languages
137 Arts & Sciences
University of Missouri
Columbia Missouri 65211
Fax: 573-884-8171
Telephone: 573-882-6977
3. Announcement from IVRI-NASAWI and Upcoming Events (Elgrably)

From: Jordan Elgrably <>
Date: 2 February 2001

Dear Subscriber*,

Ivri-NASAWI as a grassroots organization has come to the end of its fourth
year. Have we been successful? Only as a guerrilla organization can be: with
lots of heart and the determination to evolve into a national institution of
the highest quality and integrity.

From 1997-2000, we created or co-created a wide range of programming that
examines the Sephardic and Levantine stories of Jews and others. We did it on a shoestring and at times the results were truly astonishing. Many thousands have participated in programs we initiated, including the Sephardic Arts Festival, the National Sephardi Literary Contest, the Open Tent Middle East Film Fest, the Poetry of Peace, Conversations on Roots & Identity, An Evening of Elias Canetti, and so much more.

Now, in order to send down even deeper roots we are evolving from a
shoestring operation, to become the Levantine Center for Sephardic & Middle
Eastern Cultures. Our objective is to launch this center in Los Angeles in 2001 and continue its work both virtually (through the website, oral history project and magazine) and through existing chapters in New York, the SF Bay Area and later Washington, DC-Baltimore.

The Levantine Center for Sephardic and Middle Eastern Cultures will include a large portion of exploration of Sephardi/Mizrahi cultures; it will not be an exclusively Jewish project. Rather, it is meant to be a more realistic
reflection of what is in fact a pluralist region. We have already begun
fundraising for the Levantine Center and are averaging about $1,000 per week
in contributions. You are welcome to contact us for information.

You can expect us to continue with relevant and needed cultural programming
through the winter and spring. Chapters in the Bay Area, L.A. and New York
are already hard at work. Come summer or fall, we hope to present you with a
brand-new center and a better vision for the sustenance of Sephardi/Mizrahi
and Middle Eastern cultures.

In the meantime, please enjoy our updated calendar. And thank you for all
your support throughout the years.

Shalom-salam and mazal bueno,

Jordan Elgrably

and board of directors

subscribe to this monthly e-letter at

February in L.A., N.Y. and S.F.:
A Calendar of Sephardi/Mizrahi/Middle Eastern Events

*Feb. 4, "Mediterranean Collage" with the Sultana Ensemble, N.Y.
*Feb. 10, "Return to Sepharad" with Adam & Laila Del Monte, L.A.
*Feb. 11, "Are They Spanish Like Us?" Art by Micaela Amato, N.Y.
*Feb. 12, "Key to Spain: Songs and Stories of Flory Jagoda" and
"Synergy: The Poetry of Yehuda Halevy," L.A.
*Feb. 15, "The Almost True Story of My Life," Readings by Joe Sutton, S.F.
*Feb. 17, "Poets of Exile, War and Memory" with Ammiel Alcalay, Majid Naficy
musical performance by Nabil Azzam, L.A.
*Feb. 20, "Special Performance by George Mgrdichian," N.Y.
*Feb. 21, Levantine Project Arab/Jewish Dialogue Group, L.A.
*Feb. 24, Kathleen Alcala in Long Beach
*Feb. 26, Dennis Ross on "Is Peace Still Possible?" L.A.
*Feb. 28, Conversations on Roots & Identity: Libya, L.A.

These and many more programs are detailed in this month's Ivri-NASAWI
calendar. Visit our calendar, tour the website, join our discussion group.
We'll look forward to seeing you at these and the many upcoming events for

New Assn. of Sephardi/Mizrahi Artists & Writers Int'l.
1033 N. Orlando Ave
Los Angeles CA 90069
(323) 650-3157

Los Angeles
New York
SF Bay Area

4. Orientalism and the Jews: Symposium, May 7-8 (Kalmar)

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: via a poster given to me!]

The themes of this symposium include Biblical Israelites in Turkish Turbans; Jewish Maps of the Orient; Orientalism in Gotthold; Lessing & Arnold Zweig; Jews and Archeology in Nineteenth-Century Berlin; Embracing the "Semitic" Look; Moorish-Style Synagogues for Ashkenazic Jews; Representations of Chinese Jews; Delacroix and the Jewish Woman; Orientalist Representations of "Oriental Jews" in Israel; Jews, Orientalism, and Anthropology; and so much more...

Co-organized by: Leopold Zunz Centre for the Study of European Jewry, University of Hallen-Wittenberg
+1 (416) 585-4419

Sponsored by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Connaught Foundation, Joint Initiative in German and European Studies (University of Toronto and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst), Leopold Zunz Centre for the Study of European Jewry (University of Halle-Wittemberg). At the University of Toronto: Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department

5. Introduction of Mark Cohen to the List (Cohen)

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: with this issue, the Discussion List initiates the custom of inviting new subscribers to introduce themselves to other subscribers. If you haven't already introduced yourself and would like to, feel free to send your information directly to me at]

[The Discussion List extends a warm welcome to Mark Cohen, of Piedmont,

My research interests are the Balkan Sephardim in the 19th and 20th
centuries. I have worked as a writer in the high-tech industry in the
San Francisco Bay Area for about 14 years. I live in Piedmont, Calif.,
with my wife and two daughters.

I received a degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of
Journalism, and years before that received an M.A. in English from Tufts

My publications are as follows:

"Monastir 1839-63: Oasis of Westernization in the Balkans." Forthcoming
in *Turkish Studies Association Bulletin*

"The Early Founding of an Alliance Committee in a Traditional Sephardic
Community: Moses Montefiore and the Monastir Fire of 1863." This paper will be delivered at the AATSP Conference, July 2001.

"The Suffering Joker in Jewish Fiction." *Midstream* (August/September

Forthcoming book on the Sephardic Jews of Monastir. The working title,
"Spanish Ballads, French Schools, Zionist Youth: The Sephardic Jews of
Monastir, 1839-1939."

Additional articles in the Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday and New
York Daily News.

Mark Cohen

6. Introduction of Andrea Zanardo to the List

[The Discussion List extends a warm welcome to Andrea Zanardo of Milan, Italy.]

From: Andrea Zanardo <>
Date: Thursday, February 1, 2001 1:20 AM

I am a scholar of Jewish History. I am working on Ph.D. research (in the
Università degli studi, Milano, Italia) about the ghetto of Modena, headtown
of a little state, during the XVIIth century.

Best wishes,
Andrea Zanardo
7. Introduction of Harvey Sukenic to the List

[The Discussion List extends a warm welcome to Harvey Sukenic of Brookline, Mass.]

I am a currently a librarian at the Hebrew College Library. I am ABD from Brandeis. I was working on a dissertation in Jewish history in the Deptartment of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. The dissertation, which I hope to get back to finishing at some point, deals with hevrot in the Ghetto of Venice in the early modern period. I have records of over 14 different hevrot that were functioning in the ghetto: hevrot for burial, for dowering poor brides, for ransoming captives, for midnight and pre-dawn prayer. Each of the 4 different kehilot in the ghetto had hevrot: Ashkenazi, Italian, Ponentine (mainly former Conversos from the Iberian Peninsula), and Levantine (mainly Conversos under protection of the Ottoman Empire). The records, in Hebrew, Italian, and Ladino, begin in the 1570's and continue into the 1830's.

Harvey Sukenic
8. Query: Sephardic Ballads (Nelson)

Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 15:36:24 -0500
Via: TSA/H-Net List for Turkish and Ottoman History and Culture <H-TURK@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
From: Steve Nelson <>

I am researching the Greek and Turkish influences on the Judeo-Spanish Eastern Sephardic ballad, and I have found that these ballads are heavily influenced by Turkish vocabulary. With some help I've been able to find the origin of many of the Turkish loan words, but one ballad contains several enigmatic phrases in its description of the beauty of a young woman. If you would like, take a look. If you have any ideas as to the origins of the words in brackets, they would be greatly appreciated.

El su [kontosiko] estrecho que le areventa el bel.

"Her [kontos] is narrow and tight around her waist (bel)" One of my sources guesses that [kontos] is a type of dress and that it is a Turkish word. The suffix -ika is a Spanish diminutive.

De dientro d'aquel castillo / hay una moza [gorne],

"Inside that castle there is a [gorne] young woman"

Other versions of this ballad use the Spanish for
courtly or courtious in the place of gorne.

tocadica a la turcuesca / la su [sponojica] a la sien.

"Her hair is done in the traditional Turkish style, her [sponoja] at the side of her head" In context this is probably hairdo or bun or ponytail. Other versions have the Spanish for knot (of hair) in its place. The suffix -ica is a Spanish diminutive.

El su tokado en [klenga] / y el su nyudiko ala sien.

This is another version of the same verse. This time her hair is "en [klenga]" instead of "in the traditional Turkish style". In context it probably has something to do with hair being gathered at each side of her head.

los sus [musos] corelados, / merjanes d'enfilar ya son

"Her red [musos] are a coral (mercan) formation" This is most likely a reference to her lips, but I can't find the source of [musos].

Sayo lleva sobre sayo, / un jubon de [clavedon].

"She wears one gown on top of another, and a bodice of [clavedon]" This could be a type of fabric. It could also stem from the Spanish clavelon meaning "marigold"


Steve Nelson
Portland State University
9. Query: Purchasing Sephardi Videos (Ben-Ur)

From: Aviva Ben-Ur
Date: February 8, 2001
Email: <>

Could anyone advise me on where I might purchase the following two videos:

"In the Footsteps of the Marranos: Families and Living Moments in Jewish Spain"

"The Last Marranos". By Frederic Brenner and Stan Neuman. 1990. Portuguese with English subtitles.

A web search yielded no results concerning purchase information.

Thanks in advance!

Dr. Aviva Ben-Ur
Assistant Professor
Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies
Herter Hall, Box 33935
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-3935
(413) 577-0649

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