Maír José Benadrete Z"L
"The most distinguished Sephardic scholar in America during the 20th century"
Mair Jose Benadrete was born in the Dardanelles, Turkey, in 1895. He was a long-time Professor of Spanish and Sephardic Studies at Brooklyn College (New York City). Along with Hispanist Federico de Onis, who founded Columbia University's Hispanic Institute (Casa Hispanica) in 1920, they are well-known for effecting a reconciliation between Hispanics and Sephardim in America.
Benadrete was Director of the institute's Sephardic Studies Section (Seccion de Estudios Sefardies) in the late 1920's. Under Benadrete's direction, the Sephardic Section sponsored lectures on Sephardic civilization, generated articles for the institute's "Revista Hispanica Moderna,", published a Ladino/Spanish commemorative volume on the medieval Spanish-Jewish poet, Yehuda Halevi, and even staged dramatic performances in Judeo Spanish. Sephardim even formed romantic liaisons with Hispanics, particularly in East Harlem, where a burgeoning Sephardic community coexisted with Puerto Ricans, the largest Latin American community in New York City.
Benadrete's doctoral dissertation was entitled "Hispanic Culture and Character of the Sephardic Jews," was first published by the Hispanic Institute in 1953.
Professor Benadrete was an activist in promoting Sephardic culture here in the United States. He was Professor of Spanish for many years at Brooklyn College. His dissertation went on to become an important work on the Sephardim. His books and articles on Spanish and Sephardic Jewish subjects have won world wide reputation.
In 1962 Louis N. Levy Z"L and David N. Barocas Z"L (two outstanding Sephardic activists themselves) published "Studies in Honor of M.J. Benadrete," about the most distinguished Sephardic scholar in America during the 20th century.
Read a Letter to the Editor of El Progresso by Sr. Benadrete written October 30, 1915