Guest Editor's Note
Ralph Tarica *

We are dedicating this double issue of Sephardic Horizons to the memory of Jacques Roumani z”l, our long-time friend and supporter, and the husband of our regular Editor, Judith Roumani. Jacques passed away on December 11, 2016. We begin this issue with an In Memoriam by his brother Maurice M. Roumani. May the memory of Jacques be as a blessing for his family, his friends and for all those whose lives were touched by him and who now mourn him. 

In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Jacques had in recent years become a leading voice in expressing the plight of the Jews of Libya, a once-thriving community of about 38,000 souls, and the hopes for the future of the Libyan diaspora, residing primarily in Israel and Italy. This expression finally took shape in an anthology of articles he had planned and was in the process of editing, due to appear this year, the 50th anniversary of the exile of the last Jews from Libya in June-July 1967. While Jacques did not live to see its publication, the book is none the less scheduled to appear in print  within a year. We have the good fortune to be able to present, in this issue, the Preface to that book, by David Meghnagi, as well as Jacques’ Introduction and presentation of the book’s contents. We hope readers will gain insight into this other Sephardic community, one with which many of our readers are less familiar.

Readers will also find in this issue our usual wide range of material of Sephardic interest. A scholarly article by Prof. David Wacks informs us that even a late medieval Spanish novel of Christian chivalry and adventure cannot escape the historical reality of the Muslim and Jewish presence in the Mediterranean world about to enter a new age of radical change.   

Our Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) reading is once again offered by Yehuda Hatzvi, born in Salonica and now living in Israel with his wife Rahel, still writing in our ancestral – and still living! – tongue. Readers be forewarned – the bittersweet memories of his youth eventually veer more to the bitter than to the sweet. Note that we have taken the liberty of inserting parenthetical translations for a few words – mostly Turkish in origin – that seemed to call for special attention. Also please note, dear readers, that we would very much appreciate hearing from you if you have any suggestions regarding our presentations of readings in Ladino.

Jane Mushabac, the Guest Editor of our previous issue, offers us not only a review of Rivka Abiry, another frequent contributor of Ladino stories to our journal, but also an extensive portrait of the writer. Rivka Abiry, the reader will learn, is a very charming (and sometimes mischievous) lady with enviable skills not only as a story teller but as someone for whom Ladino was a language learned later in life; her first language will no doubt come as a surprise to the reader.

Ewa Tartakowsky offers a review of a work by Albert Memmi  translated by our regular editor, Judith Roumani, a noted specialist in the field of Maghrebin-Jewish writers. Judith, in turn, gives us a review of a book by Monique Balbuena on the various languages of the Sephardim and Bension Varon himself contributes a review of a work on Ezekiel, the American sculptor.

Happy reading! And please don’t forget to consider a contribution to keep our e-journal on the web; just press the Donate tab on the homepage.

* Ralph Tarica is an emeritus Professor of French and former chair of the Department of French and Italian at the University of Maryland College Park. His ongoing interest in Sephardic studies is reflected in a number of contributions to the former La Lettre Sépharade and to this journal, as well as to a Manual on Judeo-Spanish language and culture.

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