International Ladino Day
Sunday, February 10, 2019 marks the sixth annual International Ladino Day. Around the world it’s a celebration in story and song that features the history and traditions of Sephardi Jews. Rabbi Barbara serves Italy’s first Reconstructionist synagogue, Ner Tamid del Sud, that offers services in the Sephardi tradition.
What is Ladino?
The Ladino language is often called Judeo-Spanish and it a language that bridges several cultures – it a Spanish language that includes words in Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, and more. Ladino was the mother tongue of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire for 500 years. In the early 20th century, about half a million people spoke Ladino. Now there are 50,000-100,000 speakers, including my relatives here in Italy and my parents, of blessed memory, who spoke in Ladino when they didn’t want the kids to know what they were talking about!
Why is Ladino important?
Ladino is part of the B’nei Anusim heritage, the language spoken by Jews in Spain, Portugal, Sicily and Italy who were forced into Christian conversion but who survived as marranos, conversos and crypyo-Jews.
In 2013, Yitzhak Navon, Israel’s fifth President and Director of the National Authority for Ladino, endorsed the idea of International Ladino Day. Since then celebrations have been held in Jerusalem, Seattle, Istanbul, Madrid, Dallas, in New York City.
International Ladino Day celebration NYC
Sunday February 10 at the Center for Jewish History
15 W. 16th St New York, NY 10011
One of the most popular most beautiful Ladino melodies is called “Bendigamos,” which is sung in Sephardic synagogues as part of Hallel, in Sephardi homes at Birkat Hamazon, the grace after meals, and on the seventh night of Hanukah, known in Sephardic tradition as Chag HaBanot, The Festival of the Daughters.
The Lyrics – Ladino and English translation
Bendigamos –“Let us bless”
Bendigamos (a) el Altmsimo,
Al Señor que nos creo,
Por los bienes que nos dio.
Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó,
(H)Odu] L`Adonai ki tov,
Ki leolam jasdo
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por el pan primeramente,
Y después por los manjares,
Que comimos juntamente.
Pues comimos y bebimos alegremente,
Su merced nunca nos faltó,
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre Su merced.
Bendita sea la casa esta
Que nunca manque en ella fiesta,
Tarde, manaña y siesta,
A nos y a los hijos de Israel.
Blessed is the One most high,
The Lord who created us,
Let us give thanks
For all of the good things God gave us.
Praise be God’s holy name
For God has always had mercy on us.
Blessed is the Lord for he is good,
For his mercy endures forever.
Blessed is the One most high,
First for the bread,
And then for the other foods
We have eaten together.
We ate and we drank happily.
His mercy has never failed us.
Praised is the Lord for he is good,
Whose mercy endures forever.
Blessed be this house
It should never lack celebration,
Afternoon, morning, and evening,
For us and the children of Israel
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