The earliest known Ladino memoir, now in translation, sheds light on both Ottoman Jewry and one controversial man’s conflicts with the community
In the 19th century, Sa’adi Besalel a-Levi was an esteemed (if controversial) journalist, publisher, singer, and composer in Salonica, a Mediterranean port city whose 2,000-year-old Jewish community was later decimated in the Holocaust. He also wrote the earliest known Ladino-language memoir, which was all but lost until Stanford University history professor Aron Rodrigue found a forgotten copy at Jerusalem’s Jewish National and University Library. Now the memoir is available to all, in an edition introduced and edited by Rodrigue and fellow historian Sarah Abrevaya Stein, and translated by Isaac Jerusalmi: A Jewish Voice From Ottoman Salonica has been published in English in tandem with a digital version of the original soletreo, or Ladino cursive. Rodrigue and Stein join Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to talk about Sa’adi’s life, his obsession with the arbitrary rabbinic authority that led to his excommunication, and the surprising details about Jewish Salonica that find their way to us through his account. [Running time: 24:34.]
Sarah Abrevaya Stein and Aron Rodrigue will discuss the memoir with Sara Ivry in New York City on March 29. Click here for more information.
Most soldiers in Basic Training attend services just for the snacks. The lemonade was good, but it was the Torah that kept me coming back.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.