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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - April 5, 2001

Sent: Thursday, April 5, 2001

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus
Discussion List
Week of April 8, 2001


1. New Publication: *The Road to Fez* (Ruth Knafo Setton)

2. Announcement: Tenth Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies (Lasker)

3. Query: Seeking Lina Kohen Albukrek's *87 Anios Tengo* (Hathaway)

4. Query: Seeking Lina Kohen Albukrek's *87 Anios Tengo* (Bresler)

5. Query: Rustchuck (Ruse) and Simon Marcus (Ben-Ur)

6. Report and Announcement: Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus at the AJS, 2000 and 2001 (Ben-Ur)
1. New Publication: *The Road to Fez* (Ruth Knafo Setton)

From: Counterpoint Press <>
Date: Thursday, March 22, 2001 6:13 AM

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: I am including this book description as an example of contemporary Sephardic historical fiction.]

A novel by Ruth Knafo Setton
Publication date: March 1, 2001
$23.00 hardcover / 231 pages

To see this book's webpage on the Counterpoint Press site go to:


THE ROAD TO FEZ is a magical and luminous first novel about a journey of
desire that unfolds in surprising revelations, and the realization that love
transcends death.

18 year-old Brit Lek returns to Morocco--her birthplace--planning to fulfill her mother's dying wish that she make a pilgrimage to Fez to the grave of Suleika, a 19th century Jewish martyr revered by both Arabs and Jews. But Brit gets sidetracked when she falls in love with her Uncle Gaby, her mother's passionate, restless younger brother and the town womanizer. Gaby tries to break free from the borders of his life as a Jew in Morocco by
working with Arab potters and creating art that speaks a universal language.
Moving easily between the Jewish Mellah and the Arab Medina, Gaby offers a
window for Brit to see beyond the confines of their family's life in

As Gaby's and Brit's forbidden love deepens, their story is interwoven with that of Suleika--the achingly beautiful 17-year-old Jewish woman who was killed because she refused to renounce her faith. Setton provides a backdrop composed of fragments of Suleika's brief, mysterious life--pieces of a puzzle that don't quite fit together. Who was Suleika? Why did she choose death over life? Did she fall in love with a handsome Arab boy, the Sultan, or her own brother?

RUTH KNAFO SETTON was born in Morocco. The recipient of literary fellowships from the NEA, PEN, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, she has published fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry in many journals and
anthologies, including Another Chicago Magazine, Nimrod, International
Quarterly, Tikkun, and With Signs And Wonders: An International Anthology of
Jewish Fabulist Fiction. She is the Writer-in-Residence for the Berman
Center for Jewish Studies and the English Department at Lehigh University.

2. Announcement: Tenth Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies (Lasker)

From: Ben Zvi Institute <mahonzvi@H2.HUM.HUJI.AC.IL>
Date: Thursday, April 5, 2001 12:27 AM

Tenth Conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies

The tenth conference of the Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies will be
held this summer (August 6-9, 2001) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in
association with the Blechner Chair in Jewish Values, the Chaim Herzog
Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy, the Goldstein-Goren
International Center for Jewish Thought, the Goldstein-Goren Department
of Jewish Thought, and the Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish
Communities. The President of Ben-Gurion University, Prof. Avishay Braverman, the Rector, Prof. Nachum Finger, and the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof. Jimmy Weinblatt are supporting the conference as well.

The Society for Judaeo-Arabic Studies was founded seventeen years ago in order to promote research into Jewish creativity in medieval
Judaeo-Arabic, and thus, to enhance and deepen our knowledge and insight
into this culture. The first honorary president of the Society was the late Prof. Shlomo Dov Goitein, renowned historian and scholar of the Cairo Genizah. Prof. Yehoshua Blau, former president of the Israel Academy for the Hebrew Language and a noted scholar of Judeo-Arabic, was its first president. Currently, Prof. Haggai Ben-Shammai, expert in Karaism and Judaeo-Arabic thought, serves as president of the association, and Prof. Joel Kraemer, expert in Medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophy, serves as
vice-president. Over 200 scholars from Israel and abroad belong to the association. Their main scholarly interests lie in the fields of history, thought, law, language, literature and material culture.

The Society organizes an academic conference every two years, alternately
held in Israel and abroad. The conference papers which have been presented
have been subsequently published in proceedings. In the past, conferences
have been held in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Chicago, Cambridge,
Strasbourg, Princeton, and Atlanta. The tenth conference of the association will be held at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in August, 2001, on the topic "Spirituality and Material Culture in Medieval Judaeo-Arabic Culture." Conference organizer is Prof. Daniel J. Lasker of the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought and incumbent of the Norbert Blechner Chair in Jewish Values and Tradition.

The Ben-Zvi Institute for Study of Jewish Communities coordinates the activities of the Society and will host the opening session on August 6 in Jerusalem.

Prof. Daniel J. Lasker
Norbert Blechner Professor of Jewish Values
Department of Jewish Thought
POB 653
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Beer Sheva Israel
Tel. 972-8-647-2519; Fax 972-8-647-2820; Home 972-8-642-1876
3. Query: Seeking Lina Kohen Albukrek's *87 Anios Tengo* (Hathaway)

From: J. Hathaway <>
Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 1:22 PM

Dear Prof. Ben-Ur,

I typed Gozlem Gazetecilik into Google and came up with a Turkish newspaper called Shalom (Salom with a cedilla under the "s" in Turkish) that they publish, with a link to the publishing company, Gozlem Kitapciligi. You can access them online at or by e-mail at They give a fax number of +90 212 2319283. I suspect that the telephone number you were given is really two 7-digit numbers in Nisantasi; they should be preceded by the country code for Turkey (90) and the city code for Istanbul (212).

Anyhow, the Web page does list the book you mention at a price of 2,750,000 Turkish lira, which these days would be about $3, I think. I suspect that if you just send an e-mail or go to the Web page, you will be able to find out how to order it.

I hope this helps. I had no idea such a newspaper existed!

All the best,
Jane Hathaway

Associate Professor
Dept. of History
Ohio State University

Dear Aviva,

I took another look at the Gozlem Web page. The instructions they give are to send a fax to +90 212 2319283, or an e-mail to, with the following:

(1) Book title, code number (? I couldn't find this on their list), and author--so, in this case

*87 Anyos lo ke tengo* by Lina Albukrek; price is 2,750,000 TL

(2) Address and tel. number

(3) Credit card type, number, and expiration date.

Then, they say, they will send the book as soon as possible. I guess if I were you, I would e-mail just the title and ask whether there is any problem with ordering it before I gave them my credit card number. I think they probably speak English.

Oh, yes, it seems the way to get to the publisher's page from the newspaper is by clicking "Gozlem Kitapciligi" on the sidebar (Kitapciligi is a bookstore or publisher).

I hope this works! Let me know if I can be of further help.

All best,

[slight edit]

4. Query: Seeking Lina Kohen Albukrek's *87 Anios Tengo* (Bresler)

From: Joel Bresler <>
Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 2:25 PM


Mrs. Gila Kohen
Gözlem Gazetecilik Basin Yayin A.S.
Atiye Sokak, Polar Apt. 12/6
Tesvikiye, Istanbul
90-212-247 30 82; 90-212-240 41 44
(F) 90-212-231 92 83

If you have an update for me on any of this information I would welcome it.

Pesach sameach,

5. Query: Rustchuck (Ruse) and Simon Marcus (Ben-Ur)

For my forthcoming article on the American Ladino press, I have two questions I hoped list members could help me with.

1. Moise Gadol, the editor of New York's *La America* (1910-1925), is said to have come from Rustschuk, Bulgaria (see Marc D. Angel, *La America*, e.g.) This city is apparently synonymous with "Ruse". Can anyone tell me which ethnic group(s) referred to it as "Rustschuk" and which as "Ruse" and when the change to Ruse came about?

2) I have a paragraph where I discuss Ladino scholars and how they acquired their Ladino knowledge. Would anyone happen to know if Simon Marcus is a native speaker of Ladino? He wrote *The Judeo-Spanisch Language* (Hebrew), Jerusalem: Kiryat Sepher, 1965. I've also seen him cited as "Simon" (with an accent mark over the "o", if that's the same person). Robert Attal of the Ben-Zvi Institute has kindly offered to look up S. Marcus's obituary for me after the Passover holidays, but if anyone has information that they could share sooner (and in the event that the obituary doesn't yield the information I seek), I would appreciate it.

Many thanks in advance! Best, Aviva Ben-Ur
6. Report and Announcement: Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus at the AJS, 2000 and 2001 (Ben-Ur)

Dear Colleagues:

Please excuse my delay in submitting my report of last December's AJS Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus. The occasion was well attended and we were priveleged to have Professor Norman Stillman as a keynote speaker. Although our meeting was cut short due to time constraints, we also benefited from an informative discussion following the address. I would like to share with you highlights from Professor Stillman's address as well as some of the participants' ideas.

Before I do so, I would like to announce that I have decided not to undertake any Sephardi/Mizrahi-related programming for next year's AJS. Having co-chaired and organized the past three Caucus events, I am now turning my attention to my own publications. I also suspect, as some of you do as well, that the time has come to translate the Caucus meetings into action. I would like to encourage those of you attending the AJS to continue organizing efforts for Sephardic Studies at the AJS (including a fourth Caucus, if you deem this important). At our last meeting, many of you made valuable suggestions, which may now be implemented. I would be happy to distribute to this Discussion List any ideas or calls for presenters/performers, and to offer guidance where I am able.

I look forward to your Sephardi/Mizrahi endeavors and your continued participation in this electronic Dicussion List. Best,

Aviva Ben-Ur

*Suggestions/Comments from Caucus Discussion at the AJS*

[Please note: This session was not recorded on tape, and I am thus relying on my own notes. If any corrections or clarifications are needed, or if I have omitted anything, please send this information to me for posting. My apologies in advance for any inaccuracies, including university affiliation -A.B.]

1) Submit Sephardi/Mizrahi-related articles to the *AJS Review* to keep the field in the forefront. (Norman Stillman, University of Oklahoma; more suggestions in highlights to his keynote address, below)

2) Organize lectures on Ladino. Misgav Yerushalayim recently sponsored a four-day conference on Ladino in Jerusalem. Introduce a Sephardic evening performance or film. Last year's AJS had two performances on Yiddish culture and literature. Next year, one of these events should be Sephardi/Mizrahi-related. (Tamar Alexander, Ben-Gurion University[?])

3) Infuse Sephardi/Mizrahi elements into Holocaust and other courses we already have. Every program should have a "Hebrew and Jewish Languages" section, as opposed to "Hebrew and Yiddish", for example. This will allow us to be inclusive without seeming competitive. (Benjamin Hary, Emory University)

4) Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies scholars should attend AJS section meetings to arrange more Sephardi/Mizrahi-related panels. (Rachel Simon, Princeton University)

5) At Caucus meetings, we should introduce ourselves to encourage networking and awareness of the field and its scholars. (Deborah Starr, Penn State University)

6) The Program Committee is open to Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies. Our problems lie elsewhere; e.g. Jewish Studies is funded by Holocaust survivors. (Jane Gerber, Graduate School and University Center-CUNY)

7) Last year's AJS (2000) had two session on Shabbetai Zvi, relating to the Ottoman, Arabic and Sephardic orbits. The AHA accepts Sephardi/Mizrahi sessions. (Reeva Simon, Columbia University)

Some highlights from Norman Stillman's Keynote Address:

Professor Stillman began by noting that in Israel, Spain and France, for example, the integration of Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies into general Jewish Studies isn't a problem. The reason for this disparity is:

a. There is a large population of Jewish emigres from Islamic and Judeo-Spanish lands in israel and France.

b. The availability of large repositories of archival sources and living informants who speak the local language.

c. In Spain, Sephardim are part and parcel of the Spanish heritage.

Professor Stillman then discussed improvements in the development of the field in the U.S., mentioning the outstanding scholars and teachers, Samuel Armistead (Judeo-Spanish Studies) and S. D. Gotein (Mizrahi Studies). He then traced developments in the field from the 1970s through 1990s, noting that the biggest boost was achieved from 1991-1993, just before and after the quincentennial of the Jewish expulsion from Spain. He also mentioned the new category for Sephardic Studies in the National Jewish Book Awards, followed by an abatement that rests with us today. Professor Stillman ended on an optimistic note, observing that the AJS 2000 conference boasted many integrated (non-balkanized) panels, and featuring anywhere from 20 to 30 papers out of 100 presentations.

Professor Stillman concluded with suggestions for the immediate future: organize more sessions with comparative panels and encourage more colleagues to present at the AJS, e.g. MLA Sephardi Studies scholars, especially younger scholars.

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