Welcome to Volume 4, Issue 3 of Sephardic Horizons, our summer issue. As with most of our issues this one ranges far and wide across the world of the Sephardim. This time we even take you to China. This does not mean that we count Chinese Jews as Sephardim, but we feel that the existence of this community in the past and its vestiges even up to this day should be of interest to our Sephardic and non-Sephardic readers. Tiberiu Weisz, an expert on the history of Jews in China, has contributed an article on connections between Chinese Jews and mizrahi Jews over the centuries. and also a review of the recently published Haggadah of the Kaifeng Jews of China. His article reveals for the first time that a Chinese emperor appointed a descendant of a Chinese Jew to serve as prime minister in China in 1122. As far as we know, no Chinese scholar and definitely no Western scholar had suspected that any descendant of a Jew had ever held such an august position.
A recent conference held in Israel drew, perhaps for the first time, Israeli government officials, rabbis, scholars of the Secret Jews, and a member of a secret Jewish family from Majorca. The report on the conference is included in this issue, showing that a highly positive attitude to these descendants of former Jews is evolving now in Israel. In addition, we present another fascinating study by David Wacks, this time of the state of the field of medieval Iberian literary studies in the United States. David Almaleck Wolinsky, an American poet, has given us the opportunity to publish a poem of his, “The Girl Whose Dress was a Parachute,” dedicated to the long-ago wedding in Italy of the Bosnian-American Sephardic singer, Flory Jagoda. We present our condolences to Flory on the recent passing of her husband of so many years, Harry Jagoda, z”l, and at the same time to the family of Matilda Reva, z”l, a beloved member of the Vijitas de Alhad of the Washington DC area.
Our Ladino/Judeo-Spanish offerings include two new and touching poems by Haim Vitali Sadacca, of Canada, and a fascinating story by Rivka Abiry, of Haifa, Israel.
The reviews, in addition to the edition of the Chinese Haggadah by Fook-Kong Wong and Dalia Yasharpour, range from Matthew Warshawsky’s review of Orobio de Castro’s defense of Judaism, produced in the intellectual ferment of Sephardic Amsterdam in the age of Spinoza, and published for the first time, to Chelsie May on Kimberly Arkin’s Fashioning Jewishness in France, Jacques Roumani on David Meghnagi’s Libyan hazanut, and yours truly on an enactment of the Tunisian-Libyan ceremony of the bsisa, held on Rosh Hodesh Nisan, in Jerusalem.
Readers will find a new link to Indiana University Press and its series on Sephardi and Mizrahi studies. Any purchase of an Indiana book made via this link will enable a donation of ten per cent by the press to Sephardic Horizons.
With thanks to all our authors, to Vivienne-Roumani Denn for photographs, acknowledgements to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for the wedding photograph, and to Chelsie May and to Elliott Blufer for their dedicated work.
Wishing our readers an enjoyable rest of the summer,
Editor, Sephardic Horizons