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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List – June 21, 2009

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List

Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)judnea(dot)umass(dot)edu>

Week of Sunday, June 21, 2009 (29 Sivan 5769)


For archived issues please visit:



1. New Publication: Translation of Ladino Novel _The Chaste Wife_ (Alpert)

2. New Publication: _Religious Orthodoxy and Political Pragmatism: The Jews of Syrian Origin_ (Brauner)

3. New Publication: _Expressions maghrebines_ Issue on Edmond El Maleh (Rouchouze)

4. New Publication: Article, “Blue Like Me” (Benjamin)

5. New Publication: A Scapegoat for All Seasons: The Donmes or Crypto-Jews of Turkey


6. New Publication: Hary, _Translating religion: Linguistic Analysis of Judeo-Arabic Sacred Texts from Egypt_ (Hary).

7. Conference: Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies August 2009 (Martinez)

8. Conference: International Colloquim in Cordoba (Sephiha)

9. Review of Goldish, _Jewish Questions: Responsa on Sephardic Life in the Early Modern Period_ (H-German)

10. Call for Papers: "Diaspora, Migration and Jewish Memories of China," Melbourne, July 2009 (Reuveni)

11. Call for Research Proposals: Jewish Genealogy Grants (Lamdan)

12. Obituary: Ruth Fredman Cernea (Dean-Olmsted)


1. New Publication: Translation of Ladino Novel _The Chaste Wife_ (Alpert)

From: M Alpert <malpert(at)onetel(dot)com>

Date: Mon, 18 May 2009 16:18:01 +0100

_The Chaste Wife_ ('La muz'er onesta'), a Ladino novel by Elia R. Karmona, published in Constantinople 1924-1925, now republished with translation into English and

transliteration, and introductions in English and Spanish by Michael Alpert.

Published by Five Leaves (Nottingham, England).

With best wishes,

Michael Alpert


2. New Publication: _Religious Orthodoxy and Political Pragmatism: The Jews of Syrian Origin_ (Brauner)

Date: Mon, 08 Jun 2009 08:35:53 -0400

Dear colleagues and friends:


I would like to inform you that my book: _Religious Orthodoxy and Political Pragmatism: The Jews of Syrian Origin_ was presented last June 4th. Commentaries were offered by Dr. Raanan Rein, Arq. Hamurabi Noufouri, and Prof. Susana Bianchi.


Best wishes,

Dr. Susana Brauner


Estimados amigos y colegas:


Tengo el agrado de comunicarles que el pasado 4 de junio fue presentado mi libro: _Ortodoxia religiosa y pragmatismo político. Los judíos de origen sirio_.

Los comentarios estuvieron a cargo del Dr. Raanan Rein, del Arq. Hamurabi

Noufouri y la Prof. Susana Bianchi.



Dra. Susana Brauner

[ed: very slight edit]


3. New Publication: _Expressions maghrebines_ Issue on Edmond El Maleh (Rouchouze)

From: Charlotte Gehl <charlottegehl2010(at)u(dot)northwestern(dot)edu>

Date: Sun, 7 Jun 2009 14:24:25 -0500

In case you were not aware, I wanted to inform you of an issue of _Expressions maghrebines_ that will be devoted to the Moroccan Jewish author Edmond El Maleh. Here is the url:


Charlotte Rouchouze

Northwestern University


4. New Publication: Article, “Blue Like Me” (Benjamin)

Siona Benjamin, “Blue Like Me,” in _From Word to Canvas: Appropriations of Myth in Women’s Aesthetic Production_ (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009). The cover of this book is derived from Benjamin’s artwork. Click here for cover (subscribers visit:

Siona Benjamin


5. New Publication: A Scapegoat for All Seasons: The Donmes or Crypto-Jews of Turkey


Barry Kapandji posted this link on Kulanu, Inc's Facebook page:

In Turkey today, there is immense interest in the Doenmeh, a sect consisting of descendants of those Jews who converted to Islam during the era of Shabbetai Zvi, although very little remains of this community save a few memories.

A Scapegoat for All Seasons: The Donmes or Crypto-Jews of Turkey

by Rifat Bali, Isis Press, 418 pages, 2008


6. New Publication: Hary, _Translating religion: Linguistic Analysis of Judeo-Arabic Sacred Texts from Egypt_ (Hary)

From:            "Hary, Benjamin" <bhary(at)emory(dot)edu>

Date: Sat, 2 May 2009 17:13:45 -0400

Publication Announcement

Benjamin Hary, _Translating religion: Linguistic Analysis of Judeo-Arabic Sacred Texts from Egypt_ (Brill, 2009).

Translations of Hebrew and Aramaic sacred texts into Jewish languages, religiolects, and varieties have been widespread throughout the Jewish world. This volume is a study of the genre of these translations, known as the sharḥ, into Judeo-Arabic in Egypt in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The study places Judeo-Arabic on the Jewish linguistic spectrum, traces its history and offers insights to the spoken variety of Egyptian Judeo-Arabic, which set it apart from other Arabic dialects. The book also provides a linguistic model of the translations of the sacred texts. Rather than viewing the translations as only verbatim, the study traces in great detail the literal/interpretive linguistic tension with which the translators struggled in their work.

Table of Contents

Chapter One The Jewish Linguistic Spectrum

Chapter Two Judeo-Arabic within the Jewish Linguistic Spectrum

Chapter Three The Translation of Sacred Texts into Judeo-Arabic (the


Chapter Four Spoken Egyptian Judeo-Arabic: The evidence from the shará


Chapter Five Additional Linguistic Issues of the shará Tradition

Chapter Six Applying the Model

Chapter Seven The Phrase and the Word Levels

Chapter Eight The Morphosyntactic Level

Chapter Nine The Segment Level



Please have your library purchase the book (an order form is enclosed).  If you wish to purchase the book at a 50% discount, please use discount code: 448076 which is valid till June 30, 2009 (brill(at)

Benjamin Hary, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Hebrew, Arabic and Linguistics

Emory University

Atlanta GA 30322, USA

(404) 727-7942; Fax (404) 727-2133


7. Conference: Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies August 2009 (Martinez)

From: "Roger L Martinez" <rogerlmartinez(at)gmail(dot)com>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <mendelsohna(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date: Tue, 9 Jun 2009 17:29:11 -0400

Conference: Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies 19th Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado, from August 2-4, 2009

*Program Highlights*

Juggling Identities: Identity and Authenticity among Crypto-Jews. Seth Kunin, Stan Hordes and others.

Crypto-Judaism as Historical Novel. Kathleen Alcal=E1, Mario X. Martinez and others.

Keynote Address by Gabriela Bohm, filmmaker and a screening of her work “The Longing.”

Monday evening concert by Consuelo Luz, singer of Sephardic and Ladino music.

Exhibit and panel by Sonya Loya, curator, with visual artist Gail Gutierrez and photographer Peter Svarzbein about influence of crypto Judaism in their work.

Reading and talk by Carol Lopez on her play about crypto-Jewish women and the Inquisition.


Sheraton Denver West Hotel, 360 Union Boulevard, Lakewood, CO 80228. Phon

e: (303) 987-2000. The society has negotiated a discounted hotel rate of $109.00 per night. Please contact the hotel directly to make your room reservation and be sure to note that you will be attending the SCJS Conference. Please make your reservation by July 2nd to guarantee this rate.

*What’s Included in Your Full Conference Registration Fee:*

As our conference is densely packed with insightful speakers and lively panels, our registration includes most meals, beverages, and short-break snacks so that you do not need to leave the meeting to find a great meal.

Specifically, it tentatively includes: Sunday’s dinner (mahi mahi filet) and dessert, Monday’s three meals (blackened salmon salad for lunch and grilled beef tenderloin for dinner) and beverages, and Tuesday’s breakfast. Kosher meals are available on request at an additional cost.

See the conference announcement <> and registration form <>.

If you use Facebook, you can find more information about the conference at


Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies



8. Conference: International Colloquim in Cordoba (Sephiha)

From: Sephiha Haïm-Vidal <hv(dot)sephiha(at)wanadoo(dot)fr>

Date: Thu, 21 May 2009 12:56:53 +0200

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: Though the conference date has passed, readers may be interested in contacting the presenters for their papers.]

Coloquio  Internacional / Colloque International

"Sefarad: Memorias, Identitades y Diasporas"

3 - 7 de Junio 2009 Cordoba Espana

Patrocinio  / Sous le Haut Patronage de La Casa de Sefarad y La Casa de la Memoria - Cordoba

Avec le concours du CRJM /

Centre de Recherches sur les Juifs du Maroc – France

Colaboran / Collaboration

La Casa de Sefarad y La Casa de la Memoria Cordoba - Espagne Universite de Cordoue - Espagne

The Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture Ben Gurion University of the Negev Beer Sheva Israel

Departement des Etudes Hebraiques de l´Universite Paris 8 - France

Centro Sefardi  Otomano de Estambul “ Turquie

Association "Permanences du Judaaisme Marocain " Paris, France

CRJM / Centre de Recherches sur les Juifs du Maroc France

Association Israelienne Zohar pour la Preservation, la Diffusion & le  Rayonnement du Judaaisme Marocain - Israel

Associations Vidas Largas et / y J.E.A.A. - France Jacky Kadoch de la Communaute Israaelite de Marrakech-Essaouira - Maroc

Organiza / Organisation

Casa de Sefarad Casa de la Memoria

C/ Judios esq. C/ Averroes 14004 Cordoba Espagne

Tel :  + 34 957 421 404   GSM:  + 34 618 578 493

E-mail: memorias(at) WebSite:

Coordination par pays:

Delouya Arrik France GSM: +33 6 77 16 13 55 E-mail: arrik.delouya(at)wanadoo(dot)fr

Kadoch Jacky Maroc Tel: +212 524 448 754 ; +212 524 438 705  GSM: +212 661 13 99 35

E-mail: jackykadoch(at)gmail(dot)com

Baziz  Orna Israël Tél: +972 2 671 93 53 GSM: + 972 507 743 637

E-mail : baziz(at)macam(dot)ac(dot)il

Programa / Programme

Participants au Colloque de Cordoue : Entre 20 & 26 participants

5   Participants Espagne

Sebastian de la Obra; Rosana de Aza; Jaime Sanchez; Dra. Amelia Sanchis Vidal; Virginia  Luque Gallegos

Entre 7 & 10   Participants France

Ephraim Riveline; Arrik Delouya; Haim-Vidal Sephiha; Robert & Michele Assaraf; Alain & Sylviane Assouline; Lison Choukron; Said Sayagh; Marcelle Illouz;

Entre 4 & 9  Participants d’Israel

Tamar Alexander; Eliezar Papo; Shmuel Segev; Eliane Recanatti; Shosh Wolf; Orna Baziz; Dan Albo Historien; Joseph et épouse Toledano

Entre 4 & 7  Participants Maroc

Jacky Kadoch; Fredy Kadoch; Nassima Touati; Maguy Kakon; Hassan Majdi; Redouan El Khayatti, Prof d’Histoire; Kebali Khouloud, Journaliste/Radio

Miercoles 3 de Junio 2009  / Mercredi 3 Juin 2009

Matin - Apres-midi / Morning - Afternoon

Arrive a  Seville ou Madrid / Arrival at Seville or Madrid

14h00 Transfert a  Cordoue par le TGV /

14:00 Transfert  Cordoba by TGV quick train

16:00. Rencontre a la Casa de Sefarad / Meeting at la Casa de Sefarad

Visite Guidée à la Casa de Sefarad avec ses Nouvelles Salles et  d'autres renouvelés... /  Visit of Casa de Sefarad


Conferencia Inauguracion / Conference inaugurale Professeur Emérite Haim Vidal Sephiha - Paris

"Shoah y Sefardies"


Concierto de Musica Andalusa  /

Concert de Musique Andalouse

21:00......Cena de Bienvenida  - “tapasâ€? / Dïner de bienvenue -  Tapas

Jueves 4 de Junio 2009  / Jeudi 4 Juin 2009

10:00  Conferencias

Ephraim Riveline

“Contribucion de lo narrativa sefardi  oriental a la literatura israelà â€?

Université Paris 8 - Directeur de l’Equipe d’accueil doctorale  Equipe (Unité) de Recherche EAD Etudes Juives et Hébraïques (2303)

Arrik Delouya

"Judaismo de Marruecos: Memoria e Identidades�

Sociologue, chercheur et écrivain - Paris

Robert Assaraf

Sefarad y Espana: Nuevos encountros de los Judios de Tetouan con Espana en el momento de la guerra hispano-marroqui  de 1860.


Tamar Alexander

Presentacion del Libro: "La Palabra en su hora es Oro" (Refranero en Haketia). The Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture Ben Gurion University of the Neguev Beer Sheva Israel


Eliezar Papo

" El umor komo terapia: la Agada de los partizanes…"

Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev - Israël

17:00  Sebastian de la Obra.

"Diaporas: una memoria compleja "

20:00   Concierto de Musica Sefardi  / Concert de Musique Sepharade

21:00.....Cena Libre / Dîner libre

Viernes 5 de Junio 2009  / Vendredi 5 Juin 2009

10:00     Karen Sarhon

Centro Sefardi  Otomano de Estambul:

"Estambul: Identidad y Diaspora"

Orna Baziz


Hagadat Agadir - La ville éclatée

En souvenir des disparus du tremblement de terre d’Agadir

Mesa Redonda de las Experiencias y Debates

13:00    Itinerario de la Inquisicion de Cordoba

19:00 Celebracion del Shabat / Colabration du Shabbat

Sala de la Sinagoga de la Casa de Sefarad.

Bajo el nombre de Henry Kadoch Z. Participacion de Jacky Kadoch (Rabbi) de Marrakech.

Dans la Salle de la Synagogue de la Casa de Sefarad  qui porte le nom d´Henri Kadoch. Officiant: Jacky Kadoch de Marrakech

20:00    Cena de Shabat / Diner du Shabbat

Sabado 6 de Junio 2009  / Samedi 6 Juin 2009

Libro / Quartier Libre

Domingo 7 de Junio 2009  / Dimanche 7 Juin 2009

Jour des départs

Visite de Seville avant de prendre l’avion

Otras Actividades  / Autres Activités

Miercoles 3 de Junio………Concierto de Música AndalusÃ

Jueves 4 de Junio………… Concierto de Música SefardÃ

Viernes 5 de Junio………….Flamenco Tradicional

Breve resena biografica de los Ponentes

Haim-Vidal Sephiha

Profesor emerito de la Universidad La Sorbona de Paris. Fundador de la Asociacion "Vidas Largas" y de la JEAA (Judeo-Espagnol a Auschwitz). Es en la actualidad uno de los principales referentes de la Cultura Sefardi. Autor, entre otros textos, de "La agonia de los judeoespanoles". Deportado y superviviente de Auschwitz.

Tamar Alexander

Directora del "Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture" de la Ben Gurion University of the Negev Israel. Es una de las autoridades más reconocidas  en el ámbito de Autora de la lengua  judeoespañola. Autora entre otras obras de la popular "Erase una vez…Maimónides".

Ephraim Riveline

Profesor y Director del Departamento de Estudios Judios y Hebraicos de la Universidad Paris 8. Historiador. Escritor. Director de Investigaciones sobre Lenguas, Literaturas y Civilizaciones extranjeras, Director del Departamento de Estudios Hebraicos. Director de la Revista de Estudios Judios y Hebraicos, cuyo ultimo numero monografico estuvo dedicado al profesor Richard Ayoun..

Eliezer Papo

Profesor del Departamento de Literatura Hebrea de la Ben Gurion University of Negev. Vicepresidente del Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture. Autor de numerosos textos sobre la lengua judeoespanola y la tradicion sefardi en Oriente, singularmente en Sarajevo.

Karen Gerson Sarhon

Profesora de la Universidad de Estambul. Investigadora y cantante sefardi. Dirige el Centro Cultural de Investigaciones Sefardies- Otomanas  de Estambul (Ottoman-Sephardic Cultural Research Center of Istanbul). Responsable de la publicacion en judeo-espanol "El Amaneser". Fundadora del grupo de musica sefardi "Los Pasharos Sefaradies". Ha publicado numerosos textos sobre la pervivencia y desarrollo de la lengua djudeo-espanyola en el Imperio Otomano y actual Turquia./

Robert Assaraf

Escritor e Historiador. Impulsor de numerosas iniciativas para la recuperacion del legado del judaismo marroqui. Participa y patrocina numerosas asociaciones  y en la actualidad es Presidente del Centre de Recherche sur le Juifs du Maroc y de la Union Mondiale du Judaaisme Marocain.

Arrik Delouya

Sociologo y escritor. Autor de repertorios bibliograficos sobre la produccion literaria del judaismo marroqui. Presidente de la Association des Permanences du Judaaisme Marocain en Parà s. Fundador de la Association pour la Preservation, Diffusion et la Rayonnement du Judaaisme Marocain Zohar en Israel.

Sebastian de la Obra

Historiador. Investigador. Director-Fundador de la Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación de la Casa de Sefarad. Director de la Biblioteca del Parlamento de Andalucà a. Jefe del Servicio de Documentación del Parlamento de Andalucà a. Autor de numerosos textos, singularmente centrados en las "memorias de la exclusión",  tanto en la historia como en la actualidad. Fundador del Grupo de Música Sefardà "Aljama"

Jacky Kadoch

Presidente de la Comunidad Israelita de Marrakech-Essaouira. Responsable de la recuperación y restauración  de los lugares santos y cementerios de Marrakech y alrededores. Jacky es co-fundador de la Asociacion "Permanences du Judaaisme Marocain"

Rosana de Aza

Escritora. Filóloga. Investigadora. Directora de la Casa de Sefarad. Premio de Poesà a "Elena Martà n Vivaldi" del Instituto   Andaluz de la Mujer. Premio de Poesà a de la Universidad de Sevilla. Impulsora de las mas importantes actividades que sobre la Cultura Sefardà se han celebrado en los ultimos años en Andalucia. Directora de la Casa de la Memoria de Sevilla. /

Orna Baziz

Orna es profesora del hebreo moderno y biblico a a los adultos a la   Escuela normal de Jerusalén. Ella presentó su doctorado de “Lettresâ€? en 1996 en Parà s, en la Sorbonne sobre " La imagen de la mujer a la obra de David Shahar según la visión Lourianique ".Ella es autor del libro (en hebreo) "Hagadat Agadir", cuento de una ciudad destruida, en las ediciones Yad Ben Tsvi en colaboracion con la Universidad hebraaique de Jerusalen donde su búsqueda etnográfica vuelve a trazar el vivido de 13 supervivientes. Es cofundadora y delegada general de la Asociacion de Israel Zohar para la Preservacion, la Difusion y el Brillo del Judaaismo Marroqui.

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: French and Spanish diacritical marks have caused some textual distortion.]


9. Review of Goldish, _Jewish Questions: Responsa on Sephardic Life in the Early Modern Period_ (H-German)

From: Adam Mendelsohn <mendelsohna(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 14:51:08 -0400

Matt Goldish. _Jewish Questions: Responsa on Sephardic Life in the Early

Modern Period_ (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008). lxiii + 180 pp.

$60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-691-12264-9; $22.95 (paper), ISBN


Reviewed by Matthias Lehmann (Indiana University)

Published on H-German (June, 2009)

Commissioned by Susan R. Boettcher

Responsa for the Diaspora

Sometime in the mid-sixteenth century, Simeon, a Jew from India, roamed the cities of the Ottoman Balkans in order to track down Jewish men from his homeland who had abandoned their wives in order to secure writs of divorce from them so that the women would be free or remarry according to the stipulations of Jewish law. Three months later, one of those Indian husbands, Levi, declared that he was in reality not called Levi at all, and that Simeon had first intoxicated him with wine and then tricked him into signing a divorce using the name of Levi, thus setting free a married woman he had never known. In response to this accusation Simeon claimed that he had surprised Levi when he stole money from another Jew and threatened to expose him, which had apparently caused Levi to take revenge and, in turn, accuse Simeon of arranging a fraudulent divorce.

This is one of the intriguing cases from the early modern Sephardic diaspora collected in Matt Goldish's _Jewish Questions_. Goldish presents forty-three such rabbinic responsa in a lucid English translation, arranged thematically in five different parts and accompanied by brief introductory comments. Responsa--legal opinions that rabbis wrote in response to a problem of Jewish law posed to them--have long constituted an important source for the writing of Jewish social and cultural history. Often, as Goldish points out, rather than the resolutions, it is the questions posed that prove to be of most interest to the modern historian. Though typically edited and redacted, they preserve the details of cases that speak to everyday problems encountered by Jews in past centuries and provide information that would otherwise never have come down to us. Many of these cases, like the on cited above, involve the problem of abandoned wives, or "grass widows" (agunot, in Hebrew) who cannot remarry because the fate of their husbands cannot be established with certainty, or because the husband refuses to grant a divorce. The study of responsa literature opens a window on the daily lives of Jews in the past and they provide some insight into the experiences of ordinary men and women beyond the literate elites who typically dominate the historical record.

What Goldish sets out to do in this book is not to write a historical study and analysis but rather to provide the texts of a sample of rabbinic responsa from Sephardic communities in the early modern period, something that will be welcomed by teachers and students of early modern Jewish history, but probably also by professional historians of European or Ottoman history who do not typically work with Hebrew source material. Goldish divides his selection into a number of thematic sections ("Life among Muslims and Christians," dealing with relations between Sephardic Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors; "Trade and Other Professions," speaking to the economic history of Sephardic Jews; "Life within the Sephardic Community," focusing on the internal workings of the Jewish community and the conflicts that arose; "Ritual Observance and Jewish Faith," among which a number of cases deal with former conversos, forced Jewish converts to Christianity from Spain and Portugal; and "Marriage, Family, and Private Life," providing insights into issues such as suspicious pregnancies and rather unorthodox sexual encounters). Sometimes topics overlap, of course, but overall the thematic organization of the material works well. Foregoing a chronological order, Goldish is able to focus the reader's attention on the longue dure of early modern Sephardic history, and not organizing the material geographically, for example into an eastern and a western Sephardic diaspora, he is able to emphasize the interconnection between the various parts of the Sephardic world throughout this period.

Without making this a focal point of his discussion, Goldish also addresses a broader question about the scope and periodization of Sephardic history in his very useful introduction. The question of what "Sephardic" Jewry actually includes, as well as the idea that there is something like an "early modern" period in Sephardic history, are discussed quite controversially in the field. Goldish makes a convincing case when he defines "Sephardic," for the purpose of his book, in purely linguistic terms (any community in which Spanish/Judeo-Spanish or Portuguese in some form was used by the Jews), rather than trying to distill some kind of Iberian Jewish cultural essence or falling back on the approach, advocated most recently by the French scholar Shmuel Trigano, that defines "Sephardic" purely in terms of a specific Jewish legal tradition.

Chronologically, it makes sense to begin with the summary expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 (though the Sephardic diaspora certainly predates this year), and finish around 1750 when, as Goldish puts it, "a certain shift in the pattern of Sephardic life" occurred, marked by a decline in the economic standing of the Sephardim in West and East and by a decline in rabbinic authority (p. xiv). One could add that the coherence and interconnectedness of a Sephardic diaspora that emerges from the pages of Goldish's book also gives way in the mid-eighteenth century to a greater degree of cultural difference (and awareness of such differences) between Sephardim in the Atlantic world and those in the Ottoman Mediterranean and Morocco.

Goldish's introduction is a very useful overview of the history of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews and their diaspora communities that emerged in response to the Inquisition and expulsion. There are a few oddities, to be sure: "the Jews [in the Middle Ages] were no less Spanish than the Christians and Muslims among whom they lived" (p. xix)--but it is by no means clear, of course, what "Spanish" meant in this medieval context, nor do historians of medieval "Spanish" Jewry today seem to believe that there was a pan-peninsular Jewish identity. Elsewhere, Goldish suggests that the Ottomans valued the Jews as settlers "because they had no nationalist agenda" (p. xxviii)—but nobody, of course, had a "nationalist" agenda in the Ottoman Empire of the late fifteenth or early sixteenth centuries. Also the map provided (of Europe and the Mediterranean, ca. 1700) is a bit quirky: it includes a "Holy Roman Empire" and a "Kingdom of Hungary," but students will try to find the confines of the "Habsburg Empire," which appears in the text, in vain. Overall, though, the introduction achieves what it sets out to do: to set the stage for a compelling collection of primary sources and to orient the non-specialist reader and student by providing just the right amount of general background knowledge.

The strengths of the volume notwithstanding, it would have been useful had Goldish included a more thorough discussion of the reliability and possible pitfalls of the historical use of the responsa. Goldish briefly explains how the questions originally posed to rabbinic authorities would have been edited and abbreviated before being published in the printed collections of responsa he uses. He also acknowledges that sometimes the cases discussed by the rabbis would be entirely fictitious, and simply provide a starting point for the discussion of complex legal issues. I believe, however, that Goldish simplifies matters when he argues that such made-up cases are "easy to recognize ...  it is usually clear when he [the author] is doing so anyway because the question lacks all specificity or extraneous detail that does not speak directly to the legal case" (p. iii). It seems to me that this claim is not necessarily true. Consider the following case presented by Goldish from Moses Hagiz's responsa collection Shete ha-Lehem, originally published in 1733 (pp. 139-142). It deals with an individual who commits adultery with the wife of the local cantor. He despoils the cantor of everything he possesses and the adulterous couple moves to Spain (which means that they would have to live as Catholics and thus commit the sin of apostasy, or idolatry). When they run out of money and get into trouble with the Inquisition, they relocate to London. There, the former husband divorces his wife, comes to depend on charity, and shortly thereafter dies out of sorrow and suffering (that is, the adulterer is eventually responsible for spilling blood, or murder, as well). The evildoer, however, eventually moves to another city and when confronted with his former misdeeds he convinces a rabbi to sign a statement--dated 1725--that he has repented in public, acknowledged his guilt, promised not to relapse into sin, and to grow a beard. On the face of it, we have here a rather dramatic example of social deviance, and the details provided (the references to Spain, the Inquisition, and London) point to communities of former converses established in western Europe. The text even cites a document dated 1725 (and another one, dated 1728)--all details that, according to Goldish, should not be expected in a fictitious case. It so happens, however, that Hagiz had already described a template of this same case twenty years earlier in his Eleh ha-mitsvot (1713), where he spoke of someone who stole another man's money and wife and went to live in a foreign land while the husband died after losing both his wife and money. None of the details that would suggest a specific historical context in the later responsum (the reference to Spain and London, the year) appear in this earlier work. In fact, Eleh ha-mitsvot was published long before the years cited in the responsum, so that the case discussed in the responsum could not have been the basis for the general discussion of the laws of repentance in Eleh

ha-mitsvot. Upon closer analysis, then, one has to wonder whether Hagiz made this case up for the sake of discussing when and under what conditions repentance was to be considered legally valid. It is certainly suspicious that the individual discussed happens to transgress all three of the major prohibitions for which rabbinic law suggests no act of repentance is sufficient (murder, adultery, and idolatry). I am not suggesting that Goldish should not have included this case, but it would have been useful to provide a more thorough discussion of the historicity of the problems described in the responsa. It seems to me that there are clearly more alternatives than that these cases are either "real" or "made up." The example from Hagiz's responsa collection could very well be a composite of various cases, to suggest just one alternative reading. Moreover, even if a case turns out to be fictitious, it may well be just as relevant for historical analysis as a "real" one, as it still indicates what values were seen as important and what practices were seen as requiring attention by the rabbis. Finally, it seems reasonable to assume that even the fictitious cases had to appear at least plausible to the contemporary rabbinic authors, and consequently, although they may not always "reflect" social reality, they indicate something about social reality nonetheless.

Despite these considerations, Goldish's collection of texts is clearly an important and welcome contribution that will be a great resource for the teaching and study of early modern Jewish history and that will bring the importance of rabbinic responsa as a historical source to the attention not only of students, but also of professional historians in adjacent fields.

If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through

the list discussion logs at:

Citation: Matthias Lehmann. Review of Goldish, Matt, _Jewish Questions:

Responsa on Sephardic Life in the Early Modern Period_. H-German, H-Net

Reviews. June, 2009.



10. Call for Papers: "Diaspora, Migration and Jewish Memories of China," Melbourne, July 2009 (Reuveni)

From: "Gideon Reuveni" <g(dot)reuveni(at)unimelb(dot)edu(dot)au>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <mendelsohna(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date: Wed, 20 May 2009 21:34:00 -0400

Diaspora, Migration and Jewish Memories of China

Notification and call for papers

26 & 27 July 2009

Jewish Museum of Australia (26th)

School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne (27th).

Keynote Speakers:

JIANG Jin - Department of History, East China Normal


Suzanne Rutland - Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies University of Sydney.

This symposium is funded by the ARC Asia-Pacific Futures Research Network,

under the research theme "Crossing Cultural Boundaries in the Asia-Pacific."

The symposium comprises a public lecture, academic symposium and community

forum. It engages with Jewish Diaspora histories in China and Australia, aiming through a focus on the twentieth-century Jewish experience of China to explore the place of the half-way port in identity formation in migrant communities. Autobiographical writings and a number of documentaries made over the last two decades testify to the significance of the in-between place, the half-way port, in the memories of post-war Jewish migrants from China to North America and Australia. Suggestions for papers or panels related to the theme of the symposium are welcome.

CALL FOR PAPERS (closing 30 June 2009)

The symposium follows on from a workshop on Jewish and Chinese Diaspora histories, held at the School of Historical Studies last year (Sept 08).

Many Chinese-background individuals and communities in Australia share the experience  of the “half-way port”: grandparents born in China, parents born in Vietnam, selves born in born in Australia would be one possible trajectory; a mainland family waiting in Hong Kong for permanent settlement elsewhere would be another.

The conveners of the symposium are interested in maintaining the comparative perspective employed at last year’s symposium and welcome suggestions for papers related to Chinese or Russian migration from or through Shanghai, Tianjin or Harbin, the major sites of Jewish residence in China up till the 1950s.

Paper titles and abstracts together with the name and affiliation of presenter should be emailed to:

Gideon Reuveni at g(dot)reuveni(at)unimelb(dot)edu(dot)au


11. Call for Research Proposals: Jewish Genealogy Grants (Lamdan)

Date:             Wed, 13 May 2009 18:59:58 +0300

From:             Neville Lamdan <nlamdan(at)netvision(dot)net(dot)il>

The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy is once again offering grants of up to $10,000 for ground-breaking research in the field of Jewish Genealogy. It has issued a "Call for Research Proposals" for projects to be carried out in the Academic Year of 2009-10. Proposals are be submitted by August 15, 2009 and will be judged by the extent to which they broaden the horizons of Jewish genealogical research and/or create innovative tools or technologies to assist Jewish genealogists and family historians in their work. Successful applicants will be announced by September 15. The CFRP and "Instructions to Applicants" are to be found on the Institute's website (at, under "PROJECTS/Upcoming projects/Call for Projects (2009)". The Instructions are to be followed carefully, since only applications in correct form will be accepted.

Dr. Neville Y. Lamdan,


International Institute for Jewish Genealogy and Paul Jacobi Center,



12. Obituary: Ruth Fredman Cernea (Dean-Olmsted)

From: Evelyn Dean-Olmsted <emdean(at)umail(dot)iu(dot)edu>

Date: Tue, 7 Apr 2009 11:35:51 -0500

Below is the link to the obituary of Ruth Fredman Cernea, anthropologist (and dear friend/mentor) who recently published on the Baghdadi Jewish community of Burma.  May her memory be for a blessing.


Evelyn M. Dean-Olmsted, M.A.

PhD Candidate

Indiana University Anthropology Department

Student Building 130, 701 E. Kirkwood Avenue

Bloomington, IN 47405-7100

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