Letters to the Editor

Here is a selection of the many letters that we received. If you have any comments about Sephardic Horizons, feel free to send them to sephardichorizons@gmail.com.

The opinions of letter writers do not necessarily represent those of the editors of Sephardic Horizons

From:  Vic Alhadeff <Vic.Alhadeff@nswjbd.com>
Subject: Proposal for Rhodes Holocaust Memorial March
Date: Wed Aug 9, 2017

I recently participated in a family reunion on Rhodes Island, all 97 participants tracing our lineage to that magnificent part of the world. While there, three of us took the opportunity to meet with the Mayor, Mr Fotis Chatzidiakos, and we put a proposal to him – for him to lead a march from City Hall to the Holocaust memorial every year on July 21 - the date on which, in 1944, 1673 Jews were taken from the Aviation Palace, where they had been incarcerated by German troops, to the harbour. From there, they were transported to Auschwitz, where all but 151 were murdered by the Nazis.

The march would either comprise a public extension of the Holocaust ceremony which is annually held in the Rhodes synagogue, or it could be a stand-alone event. The public would be invited to participate, media would be informed and if it becomes part of the annual Rhodes calendar, it would attract worldwide attention, bringing tourists to the island to participate in what would become known as The Mayor's March. It would serve as important recognition that Jews have been an integral part of Rhodes life for 2000 years and it would assist in informing the people of Rhodes about a significant aspect of the history of their island.

There is a precedent - the current Mayor of Thessaloniki leads such a march in his city every year on the date the Jews of Thessaloniki were arrested and then deported to Auschwitz.

The Mayor of Rhodes committed to consider our proposal, and the purpose of this letter is to urge every reader of this publication to support this vital initiative by writing to the mayor. For the sake of family, memory and history.

Following are the email addresses for the Mayor of Rhodes and his advisers: 

Vic Alhadeff
Chief Executive Officer NSW Jewish Board of Deputies,
Sydney, Australia

From:  "SB" sharope blanco
Subject: Re: komentarios sobre el artikolo de Dogan Akman
To: Sefaradimuestro
Date: Fri Oct 7, 2016 1:18 am (PDT)

Kerida Judith,

First of all I would like to wish you and yours a wonderful New Year with health, joy and success . Mijorado de kada anyo.

I wrote a personal letter to Dogan Akman, a good friend of mine and thought that it might be a good idea to send it to you also, to publish it in the Sepharadic Horizons,  if you don't find it  too "sharopeyado"  for your site.

But you know, sometimes it' s fine and pleasant as well to read something light which can even bring a smile to the faces..

I really enjoy the reading of the  "revista" as would call it my beloved  Moshe Rahmani Z"l  who left us on Sept.18, 2016 . He was a great Sepharadi who dedicated most of his life to his books, his writings and the  I.S.E. Sefarad.org and  Los Muestros . Ganeden bueno ke tenga......


Best regards and hugs dear Judith

Sharope blanco

Forwarded to Sephardic Horizons, published with the author’s permission:

From: Bension Varon
Subject: Re: Ben Varon's article
To: "Ralph Tarica"
Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 5:26 PM

Hi Ralph,

I am flattered that you took the time to comment on my article at a time when you must be preparing for your annual pilgrimage to southern France, which we all envy. Your points are all well taken ... and taken to heart.  Perhaps we can continue to exchange views on the subject after your return and even draft a follow-up on some points together.

Have a good trip and a glorious summer.



On May 10, 2016, at 12:18 PM, Ralph Tarica wrote: 

Dear Ben,

Let me take this occasion to thank you for your excellent article in the current issue of Sephardic Horizons on the current status of Ladino studies in the world.  Besides putting some order into what many of us already knew, but only vaguely and incompletely, you opened up new avenues that can be explored by many of us.  

I'm sorry I won't be there on Sunday to hear your presentation and any discussion that members may bring up.  Your very thoughtful comments stimulated some thoughts of my own, for example:  

1) Under your Quo Vadis: Options section, you say that Sephardim once spoke Spanish before their language evolved into Ladino, and that Spanish is, after all, the mother of Ladino.  Could one not say, however, that modern Spanish has evolved just as greatly as has Ladino (with the exception, of course, of the extensive intrusion of Turkish and French words into modern Ladino)?  Could we not even want to think of a set of proto-Spanish dialects in the 15th century Iberian peninsula that became the Mother of both modern Spanish and Ladino?  (I don't really mean this as a point of discussion but just as a way of legitimizing both languages on equal terms).

2) Regarding your call to change the emphasis in Ladino studies away from historical linguistics to a more sociological study:  I guess my outlook is more pessimistic than yours.  Ladino is indeed an extremely endangered language. Fifty years from now, how many people will be able to speak Ladino natively -- as you point out, virtually no one is teaching it to their children.  A hundred years from now, will there be anyone left in the world who can still speak it fluently?  At which point, it will indeed have fallen into the domain of historical linguistics and be taught, if at all, the way Old Spanish is taught at the university.  Hence your point is well taken that our efforts should be to preserve, as best we can, rather than to revive.  In the future the key to Sephardic identity will indeed be sociological rather than linguistic: religious traditions, music (traditional songs) and cooking -- people might still want to cook borekas without knowing more than a couple of words of Ladino.

3) You used the word Turkino to identify us, and that is the word my family always used to identify others like us.  It is much more efficient than saying "descendants of the Ladino-speaking Jews of the Old Ottoman Empire."   Are all the members of the Vijitas familiar with the term?  Could we not use it for ourselves in the future?

Again, Ben, many thanks for providing us with this valuable information and your thoughtful comments.


Messages from Ladinokomunita, reproduced by kind permission of Rachel Bortnick:  

Artikolo sovre Ladino en el muevo Sephardic Horizons

Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:04 pm (PDT) . Posted by: Rachel Bortnick

Muestro amigo Ben Varon eskrivio un analisis de lo ke paso i lo ke puede ser el avenir de muestra lengua.  En:  The Future of the Past: Judeo-Spanish in the Twenty-First Century | Sephardic Horizons http://www.sephardichorizons.org/Volume6/Issue2/Varon.html 

Me enteresaria saver vuestras opiniones. 


Re: Artikolo sovre Ladino en el muevo Sephardic Horizons

Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:32 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "Carlos Yebra López"

Karos todos,  Mersi muncho, Rachel por el artikolo de Bension Varon sovre el djudeoespanyol. Es un artikolo muy enteresante para konoser el estado aktual del judeoespanyol (i sus kavzas), kon muncha enformasyon, la kuala es tratada de manera profesional i akademika (sin propaganda). Kuando a la parte ande Varon avla de la djente ke ayudo kon su lavoro a arebivir el djudeoespanyol, kreygo ke komo es normal, manka algunos nombres. Tengo en el meoyo a lo manko trez ke de mi vanda, son muy emportantes por su valutoza kontribusion para ke los mansevos komo yo se ambezasen el djudeo-espanyol i la kultura sefardi: Edmond Cohen, Eliezer Papo i Bryan Kirschen. 

Kreygo tambyen ke no seria una pierta (piedrita? -r) de tiempo azer un estudio ideolojiko de la linguistika djudeo-espanyola i la komunidad sefardi (kien uza ke lingua i ke sujeto, de ke, kon ke nombre, en ke "autoridad&quo t; o nasion i en ke periodo, i en partikolar kon ke intension i para ke buto). Si fazemos esto vamos a topar munchas respuestas enteresantes, por egzemplo, ke el espanyol moderno no ez la madre del djudeo-espanyol (el djudeo-espanyol nase en la diaspora komo lingua franka o komun ke se baza en la negosiasion de las diferentes variedades linguistikas avladas en kada uno de los reynos kristianos de la peninsula dande vienen los djudeos ekspulsados [tambyen del reyno de Navarra, dande son ekspulsados en 1498, esto es emportante, ama no se mensiona en el artikolo]; el espanyol es una abstraksion normativa moderna de todas sus variedades linguistikas en el mundo; el Servantes y la RAE son instrumentos tanyidos por el estado espanyol para asegurarse, kon biervos de musikalidad amable, el kontrol sovre el negosyo de la lingua espanyola en todo el mundo). En el kavzo de Espanya, kale entonses demandar: kualo es el rolo ke djugan la komunidad sefardi i el djudeo-espanyol en los diskorsos i las dezisyones estatales de la Transisyon (1975-) i de la Marka Espanya (2012-)? Puede ser ke ansina vamos a konoser la vedra sovre de ke al rey Felipe VI le tiene mankado tanto esta komunidad... 

Carlos Yebra, de Espanya  Agora en Nu York 

07 September, 2015

By e-mail to publisher@theportugalnews.com

The Editor ,
The Portugal News ,
Apartado 13 ,
8401-901 Lagoa ,


Dear Editor,

Re: The Syrian Refugees

In the year 1492, King João II facilitated the expatriation of more than 60,000
Sephardim (people of mainly judeo-arabic semitic descent but including a number of Berber and European converts to Judaism) who entered Portugal from Castile through five check-points at which documents were issued in exchange for gold. Six hundred of the wealthiest families were granted golden visas which gave them the right of residence but the rest, in return for a payment of eight gold cruzeiros a head, were given only transit visas which expired within eight months. A number of the refugees who were without assets and had entered Portugal illegally were caught and condemned to service in the galleys. The entry of so many people caused consternation not only to the Portuguese plebeians, who numbered less than one million, but also to the 30,000 indigenous Jews who, over three centuries, had established themselves as an elite which provided services as tax-collectors, financiers, physicians and astronomers to the monarchy and nobility.

Following the accession of the cruel King Manuel I the fortunes of the Sephardim went through phases of repression and forced conversion followed by a thirty year period largely without molestation. But then in 1548 came the Portuguese Inquisition with the persecution of Jews, Muslims, Conversos, Protestants and other “heretics” to Roman Catholicism. Their consequent exodus was one of Portugal´s greatest losses.

In the year 2015, we are witnessing the expatriation of a much larger number of Syrian people, mostly of Levantine-Semitic origin, to their hoped-for destinations in Central Europe where they may eventually be given permanent residence despite the vociferous protests of nationalists and fascists.

Although they may not come with money to buy golden visas, they bring admirable assets of good education, equanimity, sobriety, courage and determination which will well serve their future careers in their host countries. For this reason, it is regrettable that Portugal is to welcome only 3,000 expatriate Syrians for integration into a population of ten million which is forecast to reduce to seven million by the year 2060. The number should be increased ten-fold! It is a golden opportunity not only to add youthful talent to our ageing numbers but also to atone for the misery inflicted on the Sephardim five hundred years ago.


Robert Knight

From: Edith Shaked


I was told to email you this message with its attachment. Thank you for your kind attention.

Please, can you help me diffuse the attached announcement about the Shoah.

Like every year, in Israel or wherever I am, I attend ceremony of Yom HaShoah (my grandfather was a member of the Judenrat in Nazi-occupied Vichy Tunisia; ALL members of both parents of my husband, Moshe Perlman Shaked, died in the Nazi death camps in Poland. In 2015, it was my best friend and relative, Dr. Hannah Perez, who put flowers at Yad Vashem, to commemorate the murdered JEWS in Nazi- occupied Vichy Tunisia.

I was SPEECHLESS, when attending Yom HaShoah in California to hear the main speaker specifying "the ASHKENAZI communities"! It's a shame and I intend to discuss the issue with the responsible of that divisive utterance instead of uniting our people. I have NEVER heard such a thing. Hitler killed JEWS, and the Shoah is a JEWISH tragedy, and not a time to distinguish among Jews. The results of the Shoah was the destruction of hundreds of Jewish communities in western and eastern continental Europe, their culture and way of lives forever annihilated.

Thank you for your kind attention and consideration, (in my Holocaust syllabus, I write: Do NOT be a bystander!)

Warm regards,

Edith Shaked
Advisory Board Member, International H-Holocaust

From: Gloria Golden <bgdr529@aol.com>


You may have seen this article.   I had difficulty scanning it, but you will see enough to understand the situation.

A Hard Sell To Tame A Name In Spain.

All the best.


Click to open larger image

From: Douglas Kaplan <douglaskap@gmail.com>
“Our Brothers’ Children”

Dear Editor:

Buried under 500 years of concealment are the identities of hundreds of thousands of living Jewish descendants of the forced converts of the Spanish Inquisition. That tragic epoch lasted for 342 years (1492 - 1834 ) fourteen successive generations.

Only relatively recently have the changing dynamics of the Church and the advent of the State of Israel dispersed the hovering anxieties born of the autos da fe, summary imprisonments, and immolations of that sad Era.

Today, whole communities are left without the awareness of their true historical identity or, at best, are floating in a sea of genetic confusion.

My article seeks to alert, educate and rally the Jewish community to take positive steps for the inclusion of this trove of Jewish humanity. Indeed, the recovery of the descendants of the Stolen Jews would likely be second only to the rediscovery of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

I am an  Ashkenazi Attorney and Jewish Activist who recognizes the tragic loss
to core Judaism resulting from the Spanish Inquisition.

Douglas Kaplan

From: Ginny Blanford <ginnyblanford@gmail.com>
Subject: The Finzis

Dear friends,

We are Americans spending this spring in Rome, where my husband is teaching at La Sapienza, the University of Rome. We live off via Nomentana, across from the large public park, Villa Torlonia. Recently, while walking up via Torlonia alongside the park, we came upon five small sidewalk plaques, memorials to five members of the Finzi family, deported to Auschwitz from that place. Our thoughts went immediately to the novel and film, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. In researching a bit, we found that the novel was actually set not in Rome but in Ferrara. However, I found the article you published in Volume 1, Issue 2 (2012, I believe) about the Finzis, which mentions that the novelist Bassani may have drawn inspiration for the "garden" from Villa Torlonia in Rome. I wonder if your writer is familiar with these sidewalk plaques, memorials to real Finzis, just across the road from the Villa Torlonia. Any information you could provide on these plaques would be greatly appreciated.


Virginia Blanford

Photo credit: John L. Bryant

From: Alioune Deme <ademe@ushmm.org>
Subject: Help on oral testimonies

Dear Judith,

I am Dr. Alioune Deme from the Cheikh Anta Diop University History Department (Dakar, Senegal). I am currently a Pearl Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow at the USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) working on Holocaust Education and Research Senegal. I am doing research on the conditions of Jews in Senegal between 1936 and 1945. I would like to meet or contact anybody who had lived in Senegal during that period or who had family members who lived in Senegal during that period.


Dr. Alioune Deme


From: Isaac Haskiya
Subject: Re the articles of Matilde Tagger and Doğan Akman

The Spanish word aseo has several meanings: toilet, bathroom, smaller bathroom in a house, public bathroom, a place where one can tidy up himself, tidying up a city (Mexico: taking care of the garbage) but also "pulchritude" as in physical beauty, the consequence of having taken care of oneself. The result of aseo is "clean".

Thus a family with good-looking members that have kept themselves clean and tidy might have been called or might have called themselves as ‘aseo’ in Spain. It can also have a connection with the Jewish ritual washing of the hands.

Going to the south of Spain, still under the Arabs before the Conquista, the members of the same family might have been called al-nekave, as in cleanliness or purity, the Arabic word being a noun with al as the definite article. The Hebrew form the corresponding adjective is naki.

We find the same word in Ottoman Turkish as nekavet, meaning purity/cleanliness, used very often in the expression nekavet-i vicdan, purity/clarity of conscience. The ----et suffix is typical of Arab nouns, as in nâzik=polite, delicate, fragile forming nezâket=politeness, fragility. Another form of the same word transformed into nekâbet means prominence, leadership, used in nekâbet-i eshraf, leader of the community. So, pure, clean leads to leader. One gives the other!

One Elnakave was the head of a Jewish community in Spain, about six hundred years ago.

As to where these Jews who were called aseo or elnekave or even simply nekave existed, we would probably find them in Spanish speaking countries, especially in South America where they might have found a haven from Christian persecution, or in Arab countries, still carrying the equivalent Arabic name and even in the Ottoman territories of Europe, that is from Serbia all the way to Edirne, through Greece and Bulgaria.

A man called Nekave, with his origins in Edirne, was a well-known teacher of textile engineering in Istanbul. A former - and very grateful - student of his told me that on a bus to from Side to Istanbul. That might give you a thread.

Wishing you all the best from Denmark and Israel,

Isaac Haskiya

From: Batya Fonda
Subject: Article relevant to Sephardic Horizons

Hi Judith,

I'd like to draw your attention to a web-article I have written entitled "Food in Judeo-Sephardic Songs." I would be happy for you to include this in your journal "Sephardic Horizons" or for you to review it there.

My website consists of articles concerning the ways folksongs - mainly in Yiddish and Ladino - reflect different themes of Jewish heritage. Normally, I review a cross-section of songs covering various languages and genres, but in the case of "food" there were so many songs and considerations that I covered the Sephardic and Yiddish cuisines separately.

Taking this opportunity to commend you on the very interesting journal you are publishing,

With best wishes,

From: Isaac Betech <isaacbe@prodigy.net.mx>
Subject: Question about Bulgarian Jews during the Holocaust

I heard about Bulgarian Jews gathering for prayer, just before the deportation to the camps was canceled. I would very much appreciate if you could help me confirm this fact.

Thanks so much.

From: Jeff Malka <jeffmalka@sephardicgen.com>
Subject: Major new Sephardic Database

I am proud to announce a major new database of Medieval Spanish Jewish Surnames that have survived into the current Diaspora: http://www.sephardicgen.com/databases/MedievalSurnames.html

Crowning 25 years of creating databases for Jewish genealogists Mathilde Tagger has labored for 6 years, methodically searching through 138 books and some 600 periodicals in multiple repositories to create a database of *documented* Jewish surnames in Medieval Spain that have survived as surnames into the present. The new database consists of 20,526 citations for 12,1134 unique name spellings and provides sources for the information.

I cannot overstate the importance of this database for all genealogists but especially for researchers bearing Sephardic surnames. The genealogy community owes Mathilde Tagger a great debt of gratitude for this new database based on solid documentation instead of guesswork.

Jeff Malka, 

From: Hugo Aravena <e_terni_ty@live.cl>


Can you help me with information of the name Orabuena (Arabuena).


From: Andrew Apostolou
Subject: re: Shmuel Rosner ("The Faces of Difference" The New York Times, April 30, 2013)

Dear Sir,

Shmuel Rosner (“The Faces of Difference” April 30, 2013) claims that “early Zionism and early Israel were dominated by Ashkenazi Jews.” That depends on where you start. Rosner forgets that it was Sephardic Jews who for centuries provided a basis for Israel to exist by maintaining a viable Jewish presence in Palestine, in particular Jerusalem. Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, a Sephardic rabbi from Sarajevo, was urging that Jews return from the Diaspora to Palestine decades before “early Zionism.” An important voice in “early Zionism” was Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jaffa, Ben-Zion Uziel, who argued in 1920 that women should be able to vote. By contrast, Abraham Kook, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, opposed women’s suffrage.

Yours faithfully,
Andrew Apostolou
The writer is a historian of the Sephardic Jews of Greece.


[I have received the table of contents of No. 3:1. I consider excellent the work of all those responsible for such worthy work. I congratulate you for wishing to bring out this language or dialect, so important for humanity, representing a cultural landmark, with its characteristics that have been so forgotten by some people, --Victor Sultani]

Open letter (a version of this letter was sent to the Council of the District of Columbia)

I strongly object to the plan to rename a Washington D.C. street at the request of the Bulgarian Embassy. The proposal is to name a street after Dimitar Peshev, the wartime deputy speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament. Peshev protested against plans to deport Bulgarian Jews, laudable behavior that has been recognized.

The difficulty lies with the Bulgarian Embassy’s attempt to use Peshev to gloss over other parts of Bulgaria’s wartime record, in particular its complicity in the Holocaust in southern Yugoslavia and northern Greece.
Bulgaria was an ally of Nazi Germany. The Bulgarian army occupied northeastern Greece and southern Yugoslavia. The Bulgarian occupation was brutal. In September 1941, Bulgarian forces killed an estimated 5,000 Greek citizens in these areas.

In March 1943, the Bulgarian government cooperated with Nazi Germany to deport the Jewish population of these areas (as well as the Jews of southern Yugoslavia), a total of over 11,000 men, women, and children. The death rates were over 90%, among the highest in Europe.

After decades of evasion and denial, in March 2013, the Bulgarian parliament issued a statement about these deportations. The statement is inadequate. It takes no responsibility for the deportations and falsely claims that these areas were under German jurisdiction.

No government in southeastern Europe has fully faced its responsibility during the Holocaust. Instead, as Bulgaria shows, these governments use incidents of rescue of Jews to obscure their country’s willingness to participate in the deportation and murder of other Jews.

Washington D.C. should not be a party to such an opportunistic use of history. Peshev was a decent man. Bulgaria’s manipulation of its history is indecent.

Andrew Apostolou is a historian of the Holocaust. Links to recent articles on Greece are below:

From: Gloria Golden <bgdr529@aol.com>
Subject: Judith Romani/Gloria Golden

Hi Judith,

I have a huge exhibit containing the photographs and oral histories in my book, Remnants of Crypto-Jews Among Hispanic Americans.

I would like to donate it to a museum or organization that will use it. This work has been exhibited all over the country, but it is too hard to carry and too expensive to ship. Each photograph and accompanying oral history add up to 80 pieces. Of course, the donated exhibit may consist of fewer pieces.

Do you have any ideas?


Gloria Golden

Photo 1 | Photo 2

From: Warshawsky, Matthew <warshaws@up.edu>
Subject: call for proposals for conference of Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies

Dear Judith,

I saw a link to the recent issue of the journal you edit, Sephardic Horizons, which looks like a most interesting publication (it came from Seth Ward).  This year I am program chair for the upcoming conference of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies.  The conference will take place July 28-30 at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.  In this capacity I write to ask that you consider submitting a proposal for the conference and that you forward the attached CFP to anyone who you think also might be interested.  The deadline for submitting an abstract is April 1; however, if I were to know that someone plans to submit an abstract, it can be extended a little.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give getting the word out about our conference.

Best wishes,
Matthew Warshawsky

From: Mathilde <maticatag@gmail.com>
To: DOGAN AKMAN <dogan.akman@rogers.com>
Subject: Re: marranos

Dear Dogan,

With much interest I read your paper on the term "Marrano"

Your analysis of all the definitions found in dictionaries is perfect as is that of the books by historians.

You did a brilliant job and let's hope that this term be deleted from all languages. Bravo, Dogan!.

I tried to find the email of Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, but unfortunately I failed. Hopefully after Pesah, I'll be able to find it.

All the best,


From: Eileen friedman <EileenF@bellsouth.net>
question about one of your articles

Hello there, 

While surfing online, I stumbled across your website and read The Taranto-Capouya-Crespin Family History: A Microcosm of Sephardic History By Leon B. Taranto While reading this, I think I found my great grandfather’s brother Eli Franco mentioned in this article. 

Through 6 degrees of separation, perhaps there is a connection here. Can you help me get in touch with this author? 

Many thanks you’s as researching ones family roots is very time consuming and difficult.  I personally think we are all related! 

Best regards,
Eileen friedman

From: Eileen friedman <EileenF@bellsouth.net>
RE: question about one of your articles

My family roots are very important to me.  My Great Grandmother was Esther Camhi.  I was named after her.  We affectionately called her Nuna.  She had the sweetest twinkle in her eyes.  She married my Great Grandfather Abraham Franco, who my mother, (Janet Feller) affectionately called Papoo.  She said he was the sweetest as well. Abraham passed on early, so I never knew him. 

I am 51 years old.  I knew my Great Grandmother until I was 21.  I learned at her Shiva (1983) that she never knew how to read English . I found that very odd because she helped me with my spelling words when I was in second grade living in Howard beach, NY and my parents went on a business trip to Europe. My Grandmother Mollie and my Great Grandmother Esther (Nuna) moved in for a month!  Nuna would go over my spelling words with me and every word I spelled, Nuna would say BEAUTIFUL DARLING, BEAUTIFUL! J  I could hear her now!

My Great Grandmother, Esther (Camhi) Franco came here very young from Monastir and started our family very young. When she passed on we had five generations.  Abraham and Esther had five children. Richard, Mollie, Charlie, Joseph and Sophie. (Respectfully they also had a child named Morris who passed on as a toddler and another child who I do not recall the name as he/she passed on as an infant.)

I imagine because communication was much more difficult in those days, and respectfully that there were so many tragedies that were suffered, families got lost or separated quite easily.  Today we have the computer, email and freedom! J

I always knew we had cousins in Georgia and always wondered about who came over here and who survived and who didn’t. My mother, Janet Feller, who would normally guide me with our roots has (no word great enough here) passed on some four years ago.  

I do recall my Great Grandmother would look at pictures and just say… Nazi’s! Nazi’s.  Her two words said everything. Page after page she turned her family album.  She spent her last few years living in the Sephardic Home for the Aged on Cropsey Ave in Brooklyn. 

My Great Grandmother Esther (Nuna) and my Grandmother Mollie Cole (her oldest daughter) and my mother Janet Feller (Mollie’s oldest daughter) all had that great strong special loving warm quality that everyone who knew them…just loved them, quite simply put!  Family and family get-togethers meant everything to them!

My Grandmother Mollie married Harry Cole (Not Sephardic!) and they had Janet, Alberta and Murray Cole. My Great Uncle Richard the oldest, who I don’t remember, passed on early. He married Sonia and they had three girls. My Great Uncle Charlie French married Rae and they had two boys, Abraham (Frenchy) and Martin Franco. My Great Aunt Sophie married Charlie (Sol) Russo and they had Marlene and Jackie Russo.  The youngest son, my Great Uncle Joe married  Carol and they had Meri Franco.

What I do know about my Great Grandmother Esther (Camhi) Francois that she was born around 1897,  and her mother was Sunho Camhi. I just recently learned from my Great Aunt Sophie Russo, her youngest daughter, who told me that Nuna’s father was named Muscheon. I also learned that Sunho’s husband passed on before my Nuna was born. This is where my information gets fuzzy.  

I recall hearing that Sunho married her husband’s brother a Camhi as well, after her husband passed on. But I do know for sure.  I do know somewhere down the line….Sunho THEN married my Great Grandfather Abraham Franco’s father, Chelebon from the other side of the family!  This always fascinated me.  All these loose ends somehow do go together.

My Nuna, Esther Camhi was matched to Abraham Franco back in Monastir.  He came here first around 1907. He was about 10 years older than her. Nuna came here around 1911. She was just a teenager. They got married immediately. I was told they married at the docks of Ellis Island and they started their family right away. My Grandmother Mollie was born here in 1913 and she was child number two as I mentioned above.

I do not know a lot about my Great Grandfather Abraham Franco’s side as well.

As I said, his father was named Chelebon and Chelebon married Sunho later on in life. Though according to my Great Aunt Sophie, Chelebon’s mother was Mazeltov. I never heard that before a few days ago.  I also just learned from my Aunt Sophie that Abraham’s brother was named Eli Franco and lived in Georgia. I always recalled hearing that we had family, cousins in Atlanta.

Learning that piece of information about Eli Franco brought me to your article online.  It’s one giant puzzle!

My Great Aunt Sophie also shared with me that Abraham had a first cousin named Aron Cohen and his wife was named Leeioucha (sorry for my spelling, but my Aunt Sophie said spelled it, the way I hear it! J). They had children named Esther, Ralph and Hannika, according to Aunt Sophie.

My Great Aunt Sophie Russo, married Charlie (Sol Russo) as I mentioned above.  She is now the last of THAT generation for our family. I so badly want to piece our family together and share with her what I have learned one day soon I hope. I also want my children to learn of their incredible heritage. As for me, I have always been curious of the ties that must exist and must be somewhere out there! My biggest question is who were my Great Great Grandparents and who were all their children, and who were their parents! What was life like then?

Also according to my Great Aunt Sophie Russo, who was born in New York (1924) shared with me just recently that her mother, Esther Camhi, had a half brother named Bohor (who didn’t in those days!)  and his wife was Ricula and their children were Sammy, Morris and Mollie Camhi.  I also just learned through records that his name (Bohor) was Abraham, though she only knew him as Bohor.  Now this part gets complicated, but Sammy Camhi’s daughter Sharon married my Uncle Murray Cole (my Grandmother Mollie’s son).   You see we are all Amish!  J  They had two children together (my first cousins) Adam and Stephanie Cole and later on they got divorced.

Lastly, since I started my connection with your Sephardic Horizons online yesterday regarding Eli Franco, here is what I know about him.

My Great Aunt Sophie cannot remember his wife’s name, but does remember that he had children named Charlie and Tillie.  And this is all I know.  As I stated, I think we are all related in some loving proud way from a land far away. For sure this was a special community of Jewish people who felt a very special bond to their sweet town called Monastir. They brought back with them some of the most delicious recipes and family values. Nothing was more important than family.

I look forward to learning more about my family ties and roots. Any light you can shine would be an added blessing!

Thank you for sharing all my stories and everyone else’s stories out loud.  Now that is a MITZVAH!

Best Regards,

Eileen Friedman…
Great Granddaughter of Esther Camhi Franco
Granddaughter of Mollie Franco Cole
and daughter of Janet Cole Feller

From: Stefano Patuzzi <s.patuzzi@libero.it>
Subject: Sefarditi a Mantova

Gent.ma Dottoressa Roumani:
Vivo a Mantova, in Italia, e mi occupo di storia dell'ebraismo, soprattutto con riferimento al Cinque e al Seicento.

Relativamente alla presenza a Mantova di sefarditi mi sono basato finora soprattutto sugli studi di Shlomo Simonsohn e Shifra Baruchson-Arbib.

Mi pare di poter dire che il dato di fondo è una presenza, attorno all'anno 1600, di un centinaio di persone.

Qualcuno fra i lettori è a conoscenza di qualche volume o saggio che possa aiutarmi ad avere le idee più chiare sulla presenza sefardita a Mantova e, più in generale, nel ducato di Mantova fra Cinque e Seicento?

Grazie, con i migliori saluti e auguri,

Stefano Patuzzi

Stefano Patuzzi, PhD
Socio Ordinario
dell'Associazione Italiana per lo Studio del Giudaismo (AISG)

Dear Dr. Roumani,

I live in Mantua, Italy, and I deal with Jewish history, especially relating to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
With regard to the presence of Sephardim in Mantua, I have based myself until now mainly on the studies by Shlomo Simonsohn and Shifra Baruchson-Arbib.

I believe I can say that the fundamental piece of information is that around the year 1600 there were about a hundred people [Sephardim] living in Mantua.

Would any of your readers know of any book or essay that would help me to gain a clearer idea about the presence of Sephardim in the city of Mantua and, more generally, in the Duchy of Mantua, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?

Thank you, with best regards and best wishes,

Stefano Patuzzi

Stefano Patuzzi, PhD
Full Member, The Italian Association for Study of Judaism (AISG)

From: Rachel Bortnick
Subject: [Ladinokomunita] el prof. Moshe Lazar, z"l

Otro un trezoro de saviduria sefaradi mos desho la vida: Moshe Lazar, profesor emerito de la 'University of Southern California' (USC) en Los Angeles, a la edad de 84 anyos. Ma sus ovras, entre eyas munchas de estudios sefaradis, biviran por siempre.

(El murio el 13 Des. de 2012, ma es agora ke vide su obituario en: http://www.jewishjournal.com/obituaries/article/moshe_lazar_sephardic_literature_scholar_84 )

El profesor Lazar tuvo una vida komo un romanso enteresante ke pasa en munchos paizes, envolve sovrebivir la Shoa, gerrear en Israel, estudiar, ensenyar, i deshar un enorme legado intelektual,akademiko, i artistiko. Nasio en Romania en 1928, ma poko despues la famiya paso a Beljika, i despues, kuando Moshe tenia 9 anyos, a Fransia. Durante la sigunda gerra, estuvo internado por 3 anyos en Rivesaltes, el kampo transito, djuntos kon su famiya, asta ke parvinyeron a fuyirsen, i los kavos dos anyos de la gerra el estuvo estudiando en una eskola katolika. Despues en estudiando literatura en la Sorbonne de Paris, moro kon Elie Wiesel, i tomo lisiones de pantomima de Marcel Marceau. En 1948 fue miembro del Palmah en la gerra de independensia de Israel. Estudio en la Universidad Ebrea de Yerushalayim, en la Universidad de Salamanca en Espanya, i demuevo en la Sorbonne (ande tomo su doktorato.) En Israel, ensenyo en la Universidad Ebrea i la Univ. de Tel Aviv (ande fondo la Eskola de Artes Vizuales i Shenikas), i desde 1977 ensenyo en USC Los Angeles, ande fue profesor por 34 anyos, enprimero dos anyos en el departamento de teatro, i despues komo shefe del departamento de literatura komparativa.

Lazar era un poliglot ke konosia 13 lenguas, i durante su larga kariera, traduizio, eskrivio, i publiko mas de 50 livros, i innumeravles artikolos. Entre otros, el traduizio los eskritos de Marc Chagal de Yiddish al Fransez i inglez, i tambien traduizio al ebreo, para el teatro Israeliano, piesas en Fransez, Espanyol, i italiano - de Sartre, Ionesco, Betti, i Calderon (espanyol, del siglo 17.) El tanbien lavoro por largo tiempo, asta poko antes de su muerte, para su ovra "Satan's Synagogue" (la sinagoga del Satan) sovre el antisemitismo en eskritos, deskorsos, karikaturas, i filmos durante los ultimos 1800 anyos!

Ma mas muncho de todo, desde 1957 Moshe Lazar dio su ardor, lavor, i tiempo a la literatura en ladino. Publiko 14 tomos de literatura sefaradi klasika ke el transkrivio, treslado, i ekspliko, entre eyos More Nevuhim (Guide for the Perplexed) del Rambam/Maimonides, traduksion en ladino de la Biblia,el Khuzari de Yehuda Halevi, i mas. Para mi, su livro "Sefarad in My Heart; A Ladino Reader" es un manadero de gran valor por referensia, i para entender i apresiar el skopo de la literatura klasika en ladino.

Lazar resivio onores i premios del governo fransez, de USC i del American Jewish University, i tambien resivio el premio espanyol Orden del Mérito Civil por su ayudo a la prezervasion i restorasion de la juderia medieval de Gerona, Espanya.

Komo parte de la famiya sefaradi mundial, mando mis kondoleansas a su famiya personal.

Rachel Amado Bortnick
Dallas, Texas

From Elia Roumani.
Subject: Zarrugh interview Sephardic Horizons

There are some key words that he uses that more than anything else describe life in Benghazi amongst the locals: exchange of courtesies, dignity, not closeness, individual not collective recognition of Jewish contributions, and finally lack of "responsible representatives" of Benghazi and Libyan Jews.

Very intelligent person!

From Renee Septimus:

I enjoy looking through this publication--I also think it is very attractively done--brava!


From Gloria Kirchheimer :

Dear Judith,

 Thanks so much for sending on these comments.  Reading texts in Ladino is such a delight for me. They help me remember our language. (I look forward to reading your sumptuous article on the subject).  I found the comments on the 15th century songs quite fascinating. 

Sephardic Horizons  is a wonderful publication.  Thank you for all the work you put into it.  I know how time-consuming and exacting it is to put out a newletter/magazine on schedule, and probably, in your case, single-handedly.  I'm so pleased to appear in its pages.

Warmest regards,


From Gloria Kirchheimer

Dear Judith,

What a fascinating article you wrote, so wonderfully written and researched.  You've put a tremendous of amount of work into it.  The piece certainly pointed up how abysmally ignorant I have been, lo these many years, about the language and its variants and evolution.  My only excuse is that I never went beyond speaking it and going along with the popular notion that it was basically (like 90%) 15th-century Castilian Spanish.  Thanks for disabusing me of that misconception, and several others as well!

It is sad to think that the language is struggling.  My own children. who heard it from my parents, only know a few words here and there.

I'm glad to see that you mention Erensia Sefardi, published by a first cousin of mine, Albert de Vidas.

Thanks again for all your work.

Warm regards,

From Rachel Amado Bortnick:

Este boletin, fondado i editado de muestra amiga Judith Roumani es una maravioza ovra, ke todo el ke puede lo deve meldar. Pekado ke no tenemos posibilidad de dar siempre a lo menos un resume de los artikolos en muestra lengua. A lo menos siempre ay una kozika en ladino (esta ves una traduksion de Rivka Abiri de un enteresante artikolo sovre Zakyntos, Gresia, ke lo tenia meldado yo en inglez).

Ma, ay tanto mas! El artikolo sovre la lingua Ladino ke eskrivyo Judith, metio toda la enformasion ke ay ke saver sovre este tema. El orijin de la alkunya Asseo, ke enteresante! i tambien el de las viejas tombas de konversos en la Amerika koloniala. Todo, todo.

Salud i vida ke tenga Judith i todos los kolaboradores de Sephardic Horizons.

Rachel Amado Bortnick
Dallas, Texas

From Luisa Hazan:

Meldí los títulos del jurnal i me paresieron mui interesantes.

Indemás, meldí el diario de viaje del padre de Gloria Levy i me atiró fuertemente i esmovio por lo real,i kon tantos delalyos, komo si yo misma lo estuviera viviendo.

Reushita buena ke tengash i podamos kontinuar a ver los proksimos Volumes

Kon amistad

Buly Hazan
Corrientes, Argentina

Dear Judith Roumani,

Thanks for this new and, as always, interesting issue of Sephardic Horizons.

The review of the DeLeon concert mentioned melodies "from the fifteenth century." I think it's important to remind people that there are, in fact, no surviving Sephardic melodies from that time period. There are certainly many Sephardic song texts which do go back to that time, or the following century, and there are narrative ballads (romances) whose stories go back even further. But the melodies used to sing them are not that old; they are from different times and places of the Sephardic diaspora, after the expulsions from Spain and Portugal.

As well, the majority of the popular Ladino songs most people hear (and perform) - the Ladino "top ten" - are not from this older repertoire, but rather are relatively modern songs, often no older than the late 19th or early 20th century.

There is a tendency to romanticize Sephardic songs, and present them as if they were fossils. As do other people, Sephardim have songs of various times and contexts, happy and sad, serious and frivolous, sacred and secular, older and newer, etc. The fact that they have preserved a language (and that has not been maintained in fossilized form either!) for centuries, in places thousands of miles from Spain, is remarkable and moving in itself. That this language has been used in a flexible way, adapting it to new lands, new songs, new melodies, is all the more remarkable.

The earliest Sephardic melodies which have - so far, anyway - been found in musical transcriptions are from the late nineteenth century. Unless earlier transcriptions are discovered at some point, which is always possible, one really can't say much about the melodies of earlier times. We do know that medieval rabbis complained that Sephardic women were singing local Christian songs, for example, but we have no idea to what extent, if at all, these melodies were maintained (either by Christians or by Jews). We also know that Jews and Muslims in pre-exile Spain shared poetic repertoires and traditions, but again, these melodies were not written down (or if any were, we haven't found them). So, a statement such as "Sephardic melodies from the fifteenth century" is misleading.

All the best, Judith Cohen

From Sharope Blanco (Sefardimuestro) to Dogan Akam, forwarded to Sephardic Horizons:


My " pure, unsoiled, clean, tidy" and lovely friend,

You ve done it ! A superb study, an amazing performance.

Kol ha kavod !  Congratulations.  I am really impressed.

It took what it took, tremendous efforts, patience, investigations, investment of time and finances, tired evenings of so much reading and taking notes to finally reach a work to satisfy your need to know more about your roots and to pass it on to your descendence...

I hope that they will appreciate it at least to the point I do appreciate it.... A lot !

Sharope Blanco

Another message from Sharope Blanco directly to Sephardic Horizons:
[A little piece on the name Aseo a.k.a Akman
Shabbat Shalom

Effektivamente ! Lo supimos esta demanyana kon la notisya de muestro kerido amigo
Dogan D. AKMAN-ASEO de Canada,
ke mos informo de la publikasyon de su Estudyo,
realizado kon la partisipasyon de la maestra
Mathilde Tagger ke lo ayudo en sus

Un largo lavoro,(desde muncho tiempo ke
saviya ke lo estava preparando)  muy kompleto,
yevado a kavo kon grande reushitad i muy bien
prezentado. Lo felisito de korason.

Te felisito kalorozamente tambien por esta
revista kon muy interesantes titulos ke
vengo solo de tomar konosensya.  Nunka
seriya bastante todos los effuersos de los
sefaradis ke kedaron kayados o no bastante
izyeron oyir sus bozes por muy largo tiempo.
Te suheto la kontinuasyon de tu sukseso
i de tu lavoro, i ke sepas ke siempre tienes
el appoyo total de  SEFARADIMUESTRO  en tus
esfuersos para yegar siempre mas i mas ariva....

Estare tambien pronta a darte una mano si
nesesitas algun artikolo, poeziya, relatos
humoristikos ets.  en Inglez, en Fransez i
en Judeo Espanyol por tu revista.
Abrasos karinyozos, kerida Judith
Sharope blanco

Copyright by Sephardic Horizons, all rights reserved. ISSN Number 2158-1800