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Hanukkah Alegre!

A Ladino conversation group gathers for festivities

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(Photographs by David Tarica)

  In 2001, Sarajevo-born folk singer Flory Jagoda invited roughly a dozen other Sephardim in the Washington, D.C., area to join her for conversation over burekas and bumuelos (fritters, or doughnuts). More specifically, she invited them for conversation in Judeo-Spanish, also known as Ladino, the language spoken by Jews in medieval Spain and later in the far-flung lands to which they fled after the expulsion in 1492.  Today, the language is all but forgotten, except by those like Jagoda who spoke it growing up.

The group has grown to include more than 20 participants. At their monthly meetings—which members call vijitas de al’had, or “Sunday visits,” after a centuries-old tradition from the Old Country— the men and women eat Sephardic treats, sing songs, and study a Judeo-Spanish reading exercise, complete with vocabulary lists. Vox Tablet’s Julie Subrin recorded their annual Hanukkah gathering last December. David Tarica took the photographs.

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How about a soul food version? (Story has a great quote from Rabbi Susan Silverman.)

“Inject a little soul into your Hanukkah latkes” – Nashua Telegraph

This is fantastic! I am part sephardic and in the DC area…can anyone put me in touch with this group? I am from Argentina and speak Castellano and have been trying to find ways to learn Ladino!

Any help would be appreciated!

Please contact me at

Thank you!

Burton Paikoff says:

Being brought up in mostly Ashkenazi Brooklyn and hearing nothing but Yidish and broken English,it wasn’t till later in Life that I learned about the Ladino language. Is there a sight where one can find a Ladino-English Dictionary. If not I hope some one would Publish one. It would be a shame if it would die out the same as Yidish almost did.

Being Jewish we are always interested in all our Ancestors.

Thank you for this Enlightenment.

Burt Paikoff

Geri Posner says:

I am very interested in learning ladino
if for no other reason than to rescusitate
a dying language. Also I am Jewish and
though not Sephardic I am fluent in Spanish.

Arlene Yordan says:

I’m also Sephardic though I never learned ladino, my grandma spoke it. I’m happy for all of you. Happy Channukah!!!

Andrea says:

Very Good. Anyway on you tube there are many lessons of ladino. I am not jew but, loving spanish language a lot, I like also ladino songs like mix of arabic-spanish songs.

Millie Lander says:

Yes Burton, there is a Ladino-English dictionary! “Ladino-English/English-Ladino Concise Encyclopedic Dictionary,” by Dr. Elli Kohen and Dahlia Kohen-Gordon, Hippocrene Concise Dictionary series, available from, $19.95.
Hanukkah Alegre!

I found this very interesting. My familiarity with Ladino has come through singing. Some of my favorite pieces are sung in Ladino, such as Ocho Candelikus and Buena Semana.

Saul Cohen says:

I am 100% Sephardic with a Father who was from Istanbul and a Mother from Bulgaria. Ladino became the secret language in the house for adults only and I am sad to say I was never taught it but learned how to recognize words that would effect me as a child in the family. Please let me know how I might participate in the group. I am prepared to take a day trip to your area to participate.

peggy and Mo Mussafer says:

how wonderful to receive the email, my husband and I are both of Separdic back ground and very proud of our heritage………….my husband’s family spoke Ladino in the family………….we live in Montgomery,Alabama, unfortunately our children never learned the language. We do continue the cooking.

Leslie Cohen says:

Hi, Peggy and Mo! —
I’m also from Montgomery, half Sephardic (Island of Rhodes) and half Ashkenazi. Sadly, our dad, whose first language was Ladino, only spoke it with his cousins and immediate family, and not while raising us! But we still make the burekas, boyas, pastellis, burmelos… It’s wonderful that this group exists — perhaps it will spread to other cities.

I am 100% Sephardic, born in Rhodes and maintain traditional cooking. I recently published a cookbook on CD with 150 traditional reipes from appetizers to sweet treats available from my website (all funds raised go to maintaining the Rhodes Synagogue. Ladino ws spoken at home and is far from dead. I refer you to a great web site published in Buenos Aries.

Matilda "Pat" Franco Glickman says:

I live in Irvine, Ca., born in Atlanta Georgia. My cousins in Montgomery are Corine & Joe Capelouto, Joe & Charllotte Mussafer, Maurice & Peggy. I am 100% Sephardic and love everything about with it. I would love to meet other Sephardics in Irvine or Orange County. I cook both Sephardic and Ashkenazi foods. We learned to speak Ladino while listening to our parents, Juana & Victor Franco and our Grandfathers, Chilibon Franco and Joseph Avzaradel. Thamk you so much for this fine article. Matilda “Pat” Glickman

esther behar slubski says:

Anybody in Long Island?!

Please, please do post information on how other Ladino-speakers in the area can participate!
My mother’s parents were Turkish and Bulgarian and Ladino was spoken throughout my childhood. Now that the older generation has passed she has no one to share the language with: I know she would LOVE to participate!
We still make & love bumuelos, burekas, yaprakas, bizcuchos…Would love to find out how to connect mom…

Stella Tarica Gordon says:

I loved this article! I am from the Atlanta Sephardic community, and alas, the language has already been lost with me, although I do make borekas and cook Sephardic food for my family. (Hi Uncle Ralph and cousin David Tarica!)

I live in Punta Gorda Fl. I was born in Athens, Greece My mother was from Kavalla and father from Athens. Grandmother from Ismir, Turkey. I had enough Ladino in my ear as a child to help me learn Spanish easily. I still make some of the dishes and drink Turkish coffee every morning. I would love to receive e-mails from you. I try to educate my present Jewish community about the Sephardim. I wish I could participate in the vijitas Al Had.

Ralph Tarica says:

The members of the Vijitas de Alhad Sephardic Group were touched by all the interest expressed in our group in repsonse to this podcast. Anyone interested in having more information can contact one of the members, Ralph Tarica: raltarica at verizon dot net.

Eugene Fais says:

Adieu, Beautiful Sephardic/Ladino heritage! Is there a group in NY City…would love to get together and talk!

Many landlords will want to verify your references. Phone forward to alert potential references, together with your former landlord, that they may obtain a call. Collect some information to present to landlords/leasing brokers ? they’ll probably ask for it, anyway. This should embody a credit score check, a resume and pay stubs or tax returns.

Julie Larido says:

A friend sent me this. I am also Sephardic and so is my husband, and we are both fluent in Ladino. I really would love to attend, however I live in NYC. If anyone from NY is interested in starting vijita Al had in NYC, it would be wonderful. I was born in Thesaloniki, Greece, and we grew up with Ladino in Greece as well as in the United States.

Julie Larido


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Hanukkah Alegre!

A Ladino conversation group gathers for festivities

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