Ladino Reveries by Hank Halio Published by the FASSAC


An introduction by by Hank Halio

The first column of 'Ladino Reveries' appeared nationally in the December 1986 issue of the Sephardic Home News. Mark Alhadeff, then the assistant editor of the Sephardic Home News, asked for permission to reprint an article of mine which he had read in the newsletter of the Sephardic Social Club of Florida, Inc. Permission was gladly granted, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Little did I know then that EN MI VIEJES (in my old age) I would be making a new career for myself. Over the years I have received many compliments, and many of the readers have shared their experiences and anecdotes with me. I thank all of them for their generosity. Some of you have asked if a collection of columns would ever be available electronically. The answer to that is, HERE IT IS!

In these columns I hope to share with you my appreciation of the beauty and wisdom of the Ladino language, including personal experiences and those of my friends and relatives. It is not an attempt to give an in-depth history of the Spanish-Jewish dialect, or of Sephardic Jewry. Rather, the goal is to preserve the rich culture, language and folklore of our recent past, and to evoke the loving memories of our parents and grandparents who spoke Ladino.

We are aware of a lot of apathy toward our culture and heritage. DJUDEO-ESPANYOL, (or Ladino), is no longer the language of the house, it has been replaced by the national language. There is no doubt that DJUDEO-ESPANYOL has been undergoing a steady decline and is on the verge of total extinction as a spoken language. However, lately there has been a strong revival due to the recent celebration of the 500th anniversary of the migration from Spain to Turkey, and the publicity commemorating it. The Sephardic saga began in Spain and the Iberian Peninsula, and in the course of one thousand five hundred years, has encompassed many other countries as well. It was only natural that the Sephardim had developed an extensive culture rich in spirit that has been unique. Among its components for the most part have been the retention of 'Spanish' as the language of the family and the synagogue. Concomitantly there has been the carry-over of the customs, foods, and family traditions that started in Spain and were subsequently modified in accordance with the lands in which the Sephardim lived, and passed on from generation to generation.

One would think that the memory of the cruel and unjust punishment inflicted on them by the Spanish Inquisition would dictate an erasure of any memory of that country. Evidently the millennium the Jews lived in Spain was too deeply ingrained in them to forget. That the Sephardic culture has been able to endure into the present time is truly a miracle. With the secularization of education and the external influences of the modern world, the old ways are being eroded. For those of us who were fortunate enough to have been active participants in that saga, I hope that these stories engender many warm and rich memories. For those who were not as fortunate, it is hoped that they will serve as reference to that which once was. In any event, the Sephardic story will always be a meaningful part of history.

256 pages, 6" x 9", b&w photos, Ladino glossary | Paper, ISBN# 1-886857-01-6 $14.95.

Hank Halio signing autographs in Palm Beach, Florida.

LADINO REVERIES can be ordered direct from
the Foundation, for $15.95 + $4.30 shipping.

You can send a check or money order
for $20.25 to the following address:

Foundation for Sephardic Studies and Culture
34 West 15th Street
3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011

Attn: Ladino Reveries


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