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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - March 9, 2003

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Cacaus Discuss List
Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <>
Week of Sunday, March 9, 2003 (5 VeAdar 5763)

1. New Publication: *Folktales of Joha, Jewish Trickster” (Amado Bortnick)

2. New Publication, Feedback Requested: “Changing the Halakha” (Brandwein)

3. Inaugural of Sephardi Holocaust Memorial at Auschwitz-Birkenau on March 24 (Amado Bortnick)

4. Sephardic Studies Conference in Murcia, Spain, April 1-10 (Santa Puche)

5. Conference on Sephardic Literature in Paris (Benbassa and Attias)

6. Buenos Aires Organization to Commemorate Rambam, 1204--2004 (Amado Bortnick)

7. Job Search: Visiting Assistant Professorship in European Women’s History (Garrett-Goodyear)

8. Call for Papers: “Choosing Jewish: Ethnicity, Performance, and the Cultural Politics of Jewishness” at the American Anthropological Association Meeting (Leite-Goldberg)

9. Welcome to the List!: Luisa Kluger (Kluger and Ben-Ur)


1. New Publication: *Folktales of Joha, Jewish Trickster” (Amado Bortnic)
Date: Thursday, February 20, 2003 11:28 PM

New Book on Joha Stories in English: "Folktales of Joha, Jewish Trickster" collected and edited by Matilda Koen-Sarano, translated by David Herman. Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 2003.

Sepharadim have for generations enjoyed tales and jokes about Joha, the folkloric character who may be at times a simpleton and at times clever and wise. Joha also enters countless Ladino sayings or proverbs . (El mazal de djoha; Ken metyo djoha en la suka? A djoha le disheron amokote, se kito la nariz; and many more.)

Until now the only collection of Joha tales has been in the bilingual (Ladino and Hebrew) volume "Djoha Ke Dize?" (1991: Kona, Jerusalem) by Matilda Koen-Sarano, the prolific Ladino writer, poet, teacher, and folklorist. Now at last, such a book is available in English. The Jewish Publication Society of Philadelphia has just published "Folktales of Joha, Jewish Trickster," collected and edited by Matilda Koen-Sarano, translated by David Herman. The stories and jokes are separated into 15 chapters according to theme relatied to Joha in his social and religious relationships: family, school, work, animals, his bride, his wife, God, the king, the neighborhood, the law, food, death, etc. The informative introduction by professor Tamar Alexander of Hebrew University, and dreamy illustrations by Ezra Mach add to the enjoyment of this wonderful book.

All English speakers, Sephardic or not, can now make these humurous and instructive tales a part of their own tradition, and pass them on to their children and grandchildren, as Sepharadim have done for centuries.

The JPS list price is $30, but right now the book is available from for $21.

Rachel Amado Bortnick
Dallas, Texas
2. New Publication, Feedback Requested: “Changing the Halakha” (Brandwein)

From: irv brandwein <>
Date: Thursday, February 27, 2003 3:35 PM

Dear Friends:

I hope you have seen my article about the Sepharadim: ("Changing the Halakha"), which appeared in *Judaism* 50:4 (Fall 2001)--issue #200. I would be honoured to have your reactions.


Irvin Brandwein
3. Inaugural of Sephardi Holocaust Memorial at Auschwitz-Birkenau on March 24 (Amado Bortnick)

Date: Thursday, March 6, 2003 9:41 AM

34 West 15th Street, Third Floor, New York, NY, 10011, USA

24 February 2003


Point of Contact:
S. Alfassa-Marks 305-965-0780

Re: International Sephardic Memorial at Auschwitz - Birkenau

An emotional memorial for the Sephardim who perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau will be inaugurated in Poland on 24 March 2003 with the dedication of a plaque in the Judeo-Spanish [Ladino] language which was organized by the international committee known as Judeo-Spanish at Auschwitz (JEAA) organized in Salonica, Greece in the spring of 2000. There, survivors of the Shoah and their descendants unanimously adopted the proposal put forward by Professor Haim-Vidal Sephiha that the memory of the martyrs be consecrated by the addition to the Memorial of Auschwitz - Birkenau of a flagstone in their own language, Judeo-Spanish.

At the site of the former death camp were 20 commemorative flagstones written in 20 different languages representing those who had so tragically perished there. On each bronze plaque, in various languages, is written: "FOR EVER LET THIS PLACE BE A CRY OF DESPAIR, AND A WARNING TO HUMANITY, WHERE THE NAZIS MURDERED ABOUT ONE AND A HALF MILLION MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN, MAINLY JEWS, FROM VARIOUS COUNTRIES OF EUROPE. AUSCHWITZ - BIRKENAU, 1940 - 1945."

Before the creation of JEAA, there was no memorial in the language of the Sephardim. Auschwitz was but one of the extermination camps where the Sephardic Jews were murdered, and the flame of their 1,000 year old culture virtually snuffed out. For over a year JEAA representatives organized and attended numerous meetings and conferences gathering worldwide support. A petition was circulated on the Internet as well as through a mailing campaign. Written endorsements for this campaign were obtained from respected
rabbanim and organizations around the world in countries such as, Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Turkey and the United States. The result of these efforts produced a positive outcome in the Spring of 2001 when the International Council of Auschwitz reversed its prior negative decisions and agreed to add a plaque in the Judeo-Spanish language.

Many members of the American Jewish community will join other delegations from various countries, as well as international dignitaries for the dedication ceremony. Officials of the United States, French, Spanish and Polish governments will be in attendance, as will such dignitaries as Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, the formidable Nazi hunters. Coordination for Americans who will attend is being arranged by Mr. S. Alfassa-Marks, the former U.S.
JEAA representative, today a vice-president with the Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture. Alfassa-Marks is partnering with Mr. Albert Garih, current U.S. JEAA representative, to help build a delegation of American participants.

Judeo-Spanish is a language of fusion, essentially 15th century Castilian, colored initially by regionalisms and Hispanic Arabicisms. After the expulsion of the Jews of Spain in 1492, additional words were absorbed from the various host countries to which they fled such as North Africa, the Balkans and Ottoman Turkey. It was the primary language of many Sephardic gedolim such as the Abravanel, Haim Yosef Azulai the "Hida," Moshe Kordovero the "RaMaK," Yacob Huli originator of the Me'am Lo'ez, and Yosef Caro author
of the Shulchan Aruch. "It took 60 years, but the Sephardim who were murdered will finally be granted representation of their memory in their own language. When an entire culture is threatened with extinction, it can never be to late to honor them." Alfassa-Marks declared.

The JEAA is seeking additional members of the American Jewish community to
participate and attend the memorial ceremony and dedication. Persons or organizations interested in attending or donating to the JEAA memorial fund can contact Mr. Alfassa-Marks at 305-965-0780 or at Comprehensive information on the event can be found at
4. Sephardic Studies Conference in Murcia, Spain, April 1-10 (Santa Puche)

From: salsan <>
Date: Sunday, March 2, 2003 12:46 PM

Estimado amigos,

Me es muy grato poder anunciaros que en Yecla (Murcia) Espanya, se celebraran las I Jornadas Sefardies. El programa es el siguiente:

Martes 1 de abril.
Inauguracion de las Jornadas a cargo de las autoridades de la ciudad.
Conferencia: 'Un ejemplo de recuperacion del pasado judio en Espanya: el Call de Barcelona' por Pilar Romeu Ferrer, doctora en filologia semitica y prof. de la Universidad de Barcelona. Salon de Actos de de la Casa Municipal de Cultura. 8,30 de la tarde.

Miercoles 2 de abril
Conferencia: ' Inquisicion: la doble vida en Espanya a traves de los legajos' por Matilde Gini de Barnatan, directora del programa 'Sefarad' de Radio Exterior de Espanya. Salon de Actos de la Casa Municipal de Cultura. 8,30 de la tarde.

Jueves 3 de abril
Conferencia: 'Los sefardies y el Holocausto' por Salvador Santa Puche, doctor en filologia. Salon de Actos de la Casa Municipal de Cultura. 8'30 de la tarde.

Martes 8 de abril
Conferencia: 'El universo cultural en la disapora sefardi' por Paloma Diaz-Mas, catedratica de universidad e investigadora del CSIC. Salon de Actos de la Casa Municipal de Cultura. 8,30 de la tarde.

Miercoles 9 de abril
Conferencia: 'Musica tradicional judeo-espanyola' por Jose Ruiz Molina, musicologo del Conservatorio de Madrid. Salon de Actos de la Casa Municipal de Cultura. 8,30 de la tarde.

Jueves 10 de abril
Clausura del Ciclo con el recital de musica sefardi de 'Trio Sefarad'. Aula de cultura de Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo. 8,30 de la tarde.

Son unas jornadas modestas, pero, sin duda, las iremos perfeccionando anyo tras anyo.
Gracias por vuestra atencion.

Dr. SANTA PUCHE, Salvador
Tf: 968-792197
Fax: 968-752131
5. Conference on Sephardic Literature in Paris (Benbassa and Attias)

From: E. Benbassa et/ou J.-C. Attias <>
Date: Thursday, March 6, 2003 2:22 PM

Le Centre Alberto Benveniste pour les études et la culture sépharades

vous invite à ses

Flâneries littéraires sépharades. Lisbonne, Paris, Istanbul…
les 22-23-24 mars 2003

Les figures de proue de l'univers sépharade hantent encore l'œuvre d'écrivains venus d'horizons très divers, juifs et non juifs. Étalée sur trois jours, la série de manifestations proposée permettra d’explorer la littérature produite par les Sépharades eux-mêmes avant et après l'expulsion des Juifs d’Espagne en 1492, de découvrir ou de redécouvrir des auteurs devenus classiques, tels Elias Canetti et Albert Cohen, et de rencontrer en chair et en os leurs héritiers et continuateurs vivants, arrivés des quatre points de la planète, et réunis pour l’occasion à Paris. La littérature populaire, écrite pour le plus grand nombre, sera aussi de la fête. Ces flâneries conduiront le public d’un bout à l’autre de l’Europe, de Lisbonne à Istanbul, écrivains, comédiens et spécialistes conjuguant leurs talents pour, à chaque étape nouvelle, offrir à la curiosité de tous une autre facette d’un univers sépharade tant mythifié et d'une littérature qui appartient désormais au patrimoine universel.

Les moments forts du programme:

1. Rencontre d'écrivains français et européens, débat dirigé par Jean-Maurice de Montremy, lecture de textes par Judith Magre, et exposition, le 22 mars à 14h30, Salle Olympe de Gouges, 15 rue Merlin, Paris XIe;

2. Lecture d’écrits autobiographiques de Elias Canetti par Pierre Arditi, le 23 mars à 16h, au Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, 71 rue du Temple, Paris IIIe;

3. Colloque international "Les Sépharades en littérature. Un parcours millénaire", le 24 mars à 9h, en Sorbonne, Salle des Actes, 1 rue Victor Cousin, Paris Ve.

Coordination : Esther Benbassa

Programme complet à l'adresse web suivante:

Dernière minute : Le Prix Alberto Benveniste 2003 de littérature est revenu à Angel Wagenstein pour Abraham le Poivrot (L’Esprit des Péninsules) et le Prix Alberto Benveniste 2003 pour la recherche à Sonia Fellous pour Histoire de la Bible de Moïse Arragel : Quand un rabbin interprète la Bible pour les chrétiens (Somogy).
6. Buenos Aires Organization to Commemorate Rambam, 1204--2004 (Amado Bortnick)

Date: Thursday, March 6, 2003 5:48 PM
Centro de Investigación y Difusión de la Cultura Sefardí
CIDICSEF - Asociación Civil
Editores de SEFÁRDICA
De la Federación Sefaradí Latinoamericana- FeSeLa
Salguero 758 (1177) Buenos Aires- Telefax: (54 11)4861-0686
Página web: <>


Rabí Moisés ben Maimón (1135 a 1204), conocido como MAIMÓNIDES, o por su iniciales hebreas RAMBAM fue el filósofo, médico, jurista y sabio más renombrado del judaísmo medieval y una de las mayores glorias de la humanidad.

La UNESCO, en su sesión 120 de 1984, ya señaló que Maimónides “ trabajó en la unión de las grandes civilizaciones de su tiempo y realizó una sobresaliente contribución al diálogo de culturas” y en otro párrafo de la sesión se indica que “Maimónides, un judío, que vivió en el mundo árabe; que su trabajo publicado en árabe, fue inmediatamente traducido al hebreo y que sus ideas pertenecen a la herencia cultural de la humanidad”

En el año 2004 habrán de cumplirse ocho siglos de su fallecimiento y el CIDICSEF ha resuelto asumir la tarea de centralizar y difundir, en todo el continente americano, la información sobre las actividades que se desarrollen y se proyecten , promoviendo la recordación de este aniversario en todos los ámbitos educativos e institucionales.

La vinculación del Centro de Investigación y Difusión de la Cultura Sefardí con la obra de Maimónides se remonta a la creación de esta entidad. El CIDICSEF organizó, tanto en Buenos Aires como en otras ciudades de América, exposiciones sobre Maimónides; editó el 4to.volumen de Sefárdica íntegramente dedicado al ilustre pensador, promovió investigaciones y presentó conferencias sobre el tema. Posee además una exhaustiva documentación al respecto. En 1985, y gracias a la gestión de CIDICSEF y FeSeLa, se impuso el nombre Maimónides a la plazoleta porteña sita en Avda.Córdoba y Uriburu.

En concordancia con esta trayectoria, el CIDICSEF impulsará, en todo el continente, un plan de actividades que abarque, entre otros, los siguientes objetivos:

Promover la imposición del nombre del insigne sabio a calles, paseos públicos, etc.
Gestionar la creación de cátedras con su nombre en diversos centros académicos.
Realizar Simposios sobre su vida y obra.
Propiciar la reedición de sus obras.
Llamar a concurso para la presentación de escritos sobre el sabio (en formato de ensayo, poema, teatro, etc.)Por su parte, CIDICSEF se compromete a:

Prestar su asesoramiento a las instituciones educativas y científicas que decidan plegarse a esta trascendente conmemoración.
Brindar la posibilidad de realizar consultas en su biblioteca y videoteca.
Difundir todas las iniciativas y acontecimientos resultantes posibilitando en muchos casos la articulación de propuestas.
Recibimos consultas, adhesiones y proyectos en:

Salguero 758, Ciudad de Buenos Aires (1177)
Teléfono 4861-0686
Consulte nuestra página: <>

CIDICSEF invitará a los organismos internacionales de cultura y, muy especialmente, a instituciones y particulares que adhieren a otras confesiones, a adherirse a la recordación dedicando el año 2.004 a la memoria del sabio.

Buenos Aires, 10 de febrero de 2.003

El CIDICSEF tendrá sumo gusto en proporcionar a la Prensa los materiales
referidos a este acontecimiento

7. Job Search: Visiting Assistant Professorship in European Women’s History (Garrett-Goodyear)

From: Harold Garrett-Goodyear <>
Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 3:48 PM

The history department at Mount Holyoke College invites applications for a one-year visiting assistant professorship in European women's history, beginning fall 2003. Field of specialization open, but preference for medieval or early modern. Teaching load is 2-2. Some courses will be cross-listed with Women's Studies. Please send letter of application, c.v., 2 syllabuses (including a survey course in European women's history), and
letters of recommendation by April 14 to Prof. Jeremy King, Department of History, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley MA 01075. Mount Holyoke is an undergraduate liberal arts college for women with 2,000 students and 200 faculty. It is located about 80 miles west of Boston in the Connecticut River valley, and is a member of the Five College Consortium consisting of Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts. Mount Holyoke is committed to fostering multicultural diversity and awareness in its faculty, staff, and student body and is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and people of color are especially encouraged to apply.
8. Call for Papers: “Choosing Jewish: Ethnicity, Performance, and the Cultural Politics of Jewishness” at the American Anthropological Association Meeting (Leite-Goldberg)

From: Naomi Leite-Goldberg <>
Date: Saturday, March 8, 2003 2:17 PM


"Choosing Jewish: Ethnicity, Performance, and the Cultural Politics of Jewishness"

2003 American Anthropological Association Meeting, Chicago, November 19-23

Contributions are sought for a panel exploring specific contexts in which Jewish identities are expressed, mobilized, and negotiated. Moving beyond a model of "Jewishness" as grounded in biological descent or religious belief, the panel seeks instead to locate Jewish identity in the realm of performance: in what ways, and under what circumstances, do individuals, groups, institutions, or even nations choose to proclaim Jewish identity or heritage? If "passing" is possible, why do some people (or groups) opt instead to mark themselves as "Jews", as outsiders, as "others"? And why do some non-Jews choose to appropriate, display, or claim aspects of Jewishness? What institutional mechanisms come into play in encouraging or disputing such identification? What impact might "race", class, immigrant status, religious affiliation, and political situation have on these choices?

While pertinent to the study of all ethnic groups, these questions are particularly complex and illuminating when applied to the complex category of "Jews" -- a category that subsumes and cross-cuts such social distinctions as religion, nationality, and "race" -- in cross-cultural perspective.

Possible topics stemming from these themes include, but are not limited to:

* ethnographic analyses of public displays of Jewishness or Jewish themes -- from personal interaction to the realm of festival, ceremony, and other collective self-presentation

* the decision to "return" -- from assimilation to open ethnic identification, from secular to religious observance, etc.

* performance of Jewish identity among individuals of mixed ethnic/religious background; the phenomenon of discovering "hidden" Jewish ancestry

* local, regional, or national governmental or institutional efforts to claim, market, and/or celebrate collective Jewish heritage

* efforts of the Lemba, Abayudaya, Anusim (marranos or crypto-Jews), and other "lost" groups to gain recognition and acceptance

* complexities of the interrelationship between Jewishness and "race": including American Black Hebrews, Falash Mura, and Kaifeng Jews

* the role of gatekeepers; debates over who is/is not "authentically" Jewish

* the politics of "outing" prominent Jews

* appropriation and co-optation; tourism; the heritage industry

* Jewishness and Jewish experience as metaphor

This panel is being organized under the auspices of the Council for the Anthropology of Jews and Judaism.

Please send 250-word abstracts by e-mail to Naomi Leite-Goldberg at and to Erica Lehrer at

The deadline to let us know that you'd like to participate is March 21, 2003, with final abstracts due no later than March 28, 2003. Please note that all participants must be registered for the conference by March 28, 2003 in order to be included in the panel.

Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments:

Naomi Leite-Goldberg
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Erica Lehrer
Department of Anthropology
University of Michigan
9. Welcome to the List!: Luisa Kluger (Kluger and Ben-Ur)

From: Luisa Kluger <>
Date: Tuesday, March 4, 2003 9:20 PM

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: the List formally welcomes Luisa Kluger! Bienvenida, buyrum.]

Luisa Kluger
Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Arte Público Press
University of Houston

Ph.D. student in Spanish Linguistics focusing on Ladino in the United States. I am in the process of selecting the dissertation subject.

M.A. Rice University, Houston, Texas
B.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Judeo-Spanish linguistics and literature, Judaic Studies
Second Language Acquisition, Comparative Literature and Social History.
Cross Cultural Communications, Translation and Interpretation

I have no publications yet, as I have only recently re-entered the academic world, but I have lectured on some of the above-mentioned subjects.

Shalom i vida,

Luisa Kluger

[ed: slight edit]

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