Vox Tablet

Hanukkah Alegre!

A Ladino conversation group gathers for festivities

December 14, 2009
(Photographs by David Tarica)

(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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Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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